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Rick Santorum declines to endorse Mitt Romney

April 16, 2012|By Seema Mehta

Rick Santorum pointedly declined Monday night to endorse presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, instead pointing out that he has not backed a candidate in the race and urging his supporters to vote their conscience.

“As far as how you vote, that’s up to you,” Santorum told thousands of supporters during a conference call. “I haven’t supported any candidate at this point, so that’s really up to you.”

Part thank-you to supporters and part fundraising plea, the call took place nearly a week after Santorum dropped his bid, and eight days before his home state of Pennsylvania holds it primary. In interviews shortly after he dropped his bid, Santorum said the decision was prompted by a lack of money, but on Monday he said the it was a combination of lack of money, the delegate math and the health of his youngest child, Bella. She suffers from a typically fatal chromosomal disorder and was hospitalized the weekend before Santorum left the race.

Santorum’s wife, Karen, was feeding Bella during the call, and the 3-year-old cooed throughout.

“It’s just so great to have our happy, smiley, spunky little girl back,” Karen Santorum said, adding that she is working on a book about her daughter. “One of my sadnesses is that we couldn’t share Bella with the world. She’s such a cute and sweet little girl. She radiates this joy and love that you can’t describe in words.”

Still, finances were a key part of the call. Supporters who dialed in were repeatedly instructed to push * 0 to help ease Santorum’s campaign debt.

But unlike others in the GOP field, who decamped to beaches and other places outside the public glare after dropping their bids, Santorum pledged to remain involved  and hinted that he would unveil a project soon to keep the issues he highlighted, such as the importance of the nuclear family, in the spotlight.

“The best thing they can do is stay tuned. We really are serious about making sure the issues we brought up during this campaign are continuing going forward,” Santorum said.

“We will have a place for people to organize and to rally to make a difference.”

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