Osburn: Santorum suspends campaignWritten by Ben Osburn | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Tuesday after Easter, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his bid to be the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. The decision came at time when polls in Pennsylvania, a state he personally felt he needed to win to go on, are tightening between him and Mitt Romney. Factoring also in his decision was the hospitalization of his 3-year-old daughter, Bella. Bella was hospitalized for the second time during the campaign over the holiday weekend. She was born with Trisomy 18, a potentially fatal chromosomal disorder. An aide close to Santorum spoke of the importance of the incident in Santorum’s decision, “When you have enough time with your adrenaline down, you start to think about what’s really important. … Sitting in the hospital for the second time during this campaign really put that into perspective for Santorum.”
Also factoring into the decision was delegate math, campaign resources and an over-crowded candidate field. Currently in the delegate standings, Mitt Romney is in first by a large margin, with 659, well above the half way point of the 1144 needed to win. Before resigning, Santorum stood at 275. For Santorum to even start to compete with Romney, the upcoming primary states would all need to be winner take all, which they are not. For example, while Santorum holds a small lead in Pennsylvania, Romney could very well gain more delegates than him in the contest due to proportionality. The same is true for Texas, which consists of 154 delegates given proportionally. Simply put, Santorum does not have enough time to get the delegates needed.
Santorum also does not have enough money to go on, nor does he have the manpower. Although the campaign has come a long way since the days of traveling around Iowa via pickup truck, the Romney machine is too powerful. According to the last disclosure reports, in February the campaign had raised just over $15.5 million, a risible amount compared to Romney’s $75 million. However, the campaign has stated that it will continue to raise money, as it currently is in debt. Should it raise enough to get out, what it does with the money is up to the campaign. Romney certainly will gain more monetary traction as a result of Santorum dropping out. Former investment banker Foster Friess, who gave copious amounts of money to Santorum, has stated that he now supports Romney and will “help in whatever way he can.”
Additionally, in order for Santorum to stay competitive, he would have needed Gingrich to step out the race. By doing so, Santorum would have been able to lock up the conservative, “anti-Romney,” vote. However with Gingrich still around, and Romney gaining the endorsements of key conservatives like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, the task is now virtually impossible.
Santorum’s campaign by all means had the makings of a Cinderella story. When he announced in June that he was going to run, hardly anyone gave him the time of day. As “big tier” candidates like Rick Perry entered into the race, Santorum quickly faded into the background. The campaign continued its roller coaster ride up to Iowa, where Newt Gingrich was riding high in the polls, due to his success in the debates.
The game quickly changed in Iowa. Having the little resources it had, the Santorum campaign spent the most time of all the candidates in Iowa and “lost” to Romney by 8 votes. Come to find later he actually won the race, but it mattered little as he began to energize the conservative base, spiking his fundraising totals in the process. As his rivals began to drop like flies, Santorum was able to lock in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri all in one night, a high point in his campaign and one that had pundits thinking the race could go on until June. However, as Romney began to perform well in the competitive swing states, Santorum began to falter in the delegate count. The campaign “gaffs” started to come into play as well. Controversial statements about contraception funding and African-American access to welfare made it easy to peg Santorum as being anti-women and anti-minorities. Despite the increasing odds, Santorum decided to stay in the race in late March, citing erroneous delegate math calculations and promising victories in future primaries.
It is very likely that while social conservative are not quickly rushing to Romney, they will begin to support him, as many Tea Party activists are doing. Although Santorum has said that a Romney endorsement is not inevitable, it will likely come as Romney gets closer to the magic number. I do not see Santorum leaving the political scene anytime soon. Although at times unorthodox, Santorum has an unmatchable ability to rally social conservatives and will most likely form a political action committee in the near future.