Santorum suspends campaign

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Rick Santorum. - PHOTO: Courtesy

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is suspending his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. The announcement, which was made in Pennsylvania, means that Mitt Romney is all but guaranteed the nomination.

Santorum, the most conservative candidate in the race, said daughter Bella’s illness led him to suspend his drive for the White House, according to the Associated Press.

"We were very concerned about our role being the best parents we possibly could to our children," Santorum said.

Polls showed Santorum likely would lose the upcoming primary in his home state to Romney by about 18 points.

Santorum did not endorse Romney in his announcement today, but he did vow to work to defeat Barack Obama in November.

Romney, in a statement, called Santorum an able, worthy opponent in the primary contest.

"He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation," Romney said.

Newt Gingrich, who has not had a strong finish since January, has vowed to continue his campaign to the nominating convention in Florida.

Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay GOP group, said the exit of Santorum provided an opportunity for the Republican Party to improve its reputation with young, moderate and independent voters.

"After a long and drawn out primary season, Republicans are looking forward to changing the focus toward President Obama and Democrats in Congress," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. "The departure of Rick Santorum's divisive social politics from the race puts moderate, independent and younger conservative voters in play. The time is now for the Republican Party to capitalize by presenting an inclusive, united front focused on economic growth, exploration of natural resources and defending national interests abroad."

LCR does not endorse during the primary but may endorse a candidate for the White House before the convention.

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