Will Santorum Choose A Graceful Exit?

The question ultimately turns on Santorum's future political goals. ABC News' Rick Klein weighs in:

Santorum has shocked the political world by emerging as Romney’s chief alternative. His slightly belated victory in Iowa was followed by a series of impressive showings, including wins in the Deep South and the Mountain West, and a blowout victory in Louisiana as late as March 24.

But even if he continues to surprise, he has fallen too far back in the delegate race to have a serious shot at capturing the nomination. He’s secured only 281 delegates to Romney’s 658, according to ABC News’ delegate count; 1,144 are needed for the nomination, but only Romney has a legitimate mathematical shot of getting there, given proportional allocation rules in most states.

Santorum has labeled his home state a must-win. But even a win there would probably see him slipping further behind in the delegate race that day, because Romney-favored New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island also vote April 24.

Santorum has now gone from ex-senator who lost his last race in a landslide, to the silver medalist in a chaotic, once-crowded GOP primary. At 53, he’s young enough to have a long future in the party, maybe even as a candidate again some day.

Romney’s timely exit in his race against Sen. John McCain in 2008 has been widely cited as the first step toward what’s on track to be a successful bid for the nomination in 2012.

For Santorum to follow a similar path, getting out on his own terms is a must. And losing on his own turf would hurt that prospect, perhaps beyond repair.

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published this page in In The News 2012-04-09 11:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy