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Romney calls Santorum an 'able and worthy competitor'

April 10, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Surrounded by members of his family, Rick Santorum announces he is suspending his campaign for president.
Surrounded by members of his family, Rick Santorum announces he is suspending… (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — Quickly seizing upon Rick Santorum’s announcement that he would suspend his presidential campaign, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney praised Santorum as an “able and worthy competitor” and called on the party to focus on “putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity.”

Santorum, who didn’t mention his Republican opponents as he made his announcement on Tuesday in Gettysburg, Pa., was universally praised by the campaigns of Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

In a statement released by his campaign, Romney congratulated Santorum on his run and said “he has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation.”

Gingrich and Paul, whose campaigns look even more like also-rans in the face of Romney’s ever-increasing delegate lead, were quick to reach out to Santorum’s supporters, and hopefully his delegates, to join their camps.

"I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice,” Gingrich said. “I humbly ask Sen. Santorum’s supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa.  We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.”

Paul’s campaign congratulated Santorum “on running such a spirited campaign. Dr. Paul is now the last – and real – conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates, and press the fight for limited, constitutional government in Tampa.”

Santorum’s campaign also sent out a press release that reiterated much of his speech, but also added a glimpse into the thought process that led to his decision.

“Our good friends in Texas have been working non-stop to make sure that they have a say in the choice of our nominee, but without the state changing its delegate allocation to winner-take-all, I do not see a path forward that does not risk our shared objective of defeating Barack Obama in November,” his campaign said.

Santorum, who will have a role in guiding where his supporters go, said in his concession speech that, “While this presidential race is over for us, for me … we are not done fighting.”

Unknown at this point is whether that means Santorum will fight for Romney, the inevitable Republican nominee, or take leave of the race and promote causes instead of a candidate.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: Romney calls Santorum an 'able and worthy competitor'

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