Bowing to political reality, Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday in the wake of polls showing him losing the April 24 Republican primary in his home state of Pennsylvania to the now almost certain nominee, Mitt Romney.
Santorum’s decision is based on practical politics. Santorum seems to understand that if he loses the Pennsylvania primary, his political viability would be gone and his ability to run in 2016 would all but evaporate. Moreover, by withdrawing now, Santorum has at least some chance of restoring favor with Governor Romney, who he called “the worst Republican in the country” to run against President Obama just two weeks ago because of his support on a state level for universal health care.
Santorum probably can’t and won’t bring a lot of support to Mitt Romney. But the fact that Santorum and Newt Gingrich have both effectively suspended their campaigns means that Romney will be able to turn his full attention to President Obama, and use the money and resources that he has against the incumbent President.
Moreover, Romney’s fundraising can now be almost totally focused on the general election, allowing him to potentially make up some of the difference in cash on hand between the incumbent President and the likely Republican challenger.
Make no mistake – today is a good day for Governor Romney. That being said, the ABC News/Washington Post poll released today has Romney trailing Obama by seven points. And while his credibility on the economy is even with the President’s credibility, Governor Romney still has liabilities that he has to address.
Regardless, the withdrawal of Rick Santorum has taken one of the roadblocks away. And a big roadblock at that.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the recently released “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield). Available now on Amazon.com!
Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen