"While this presidential race is over for us, for me ... we are not done fighting," Santorum said. "We are going to continue to fight for those voices. ... There's a lot of greatness, a lot of greatness in this country."
In a somber press conference in Gettysburg, Pa., the conservative Republican said he and his family had made the decision to enter the race during a discussion over the kitchen table, and that it was similarly a family decision to suspend the campaign. He recounted the nearly yearlong campaign.
"It was a love affair for me, going from state to state and seeing the differences, but seeing the wonderful, wonderful people of this country," he said.
The announcement came just hours after Santorum's daughter Bella was released from the hospital. Bella, 3, was born with Trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal disorder that makes her susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia.
Santorum was considered the only remaining GOP candidate who potentially could prevent Mitt Romney from winning the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination.
But Romney's recent primary victories in Maryland and Wisconsin helped cement his status as the presumed nominee, and Santorum trailed Romney in the delegate count 285 to 661. Numerous polls showed Republican voters viewed Romney as not only the inevitable nominee, but also the candidate who had the best chance of defeating President Barack Obama in November.
The former Pennsylvania senator had vowed to stay in the race and said he expected to win his home state's primary on April 24, but recent polls showed Romney was cutting into Santorum's lead there and was within striking distance of a win.
By "suspending" his campaign, Santorum can continue to collect contributions to retire debts.
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