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Santorum Withdrawal Reaction
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

Santorum Withdrawal Reaction

 
 

As I wrote earlier, there will be no one happier than Mitt Romney that Rick Santorum today decided to depart the race for the Republican nomination to square off against Barack Obama this November. Santorum’s decision, despite Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich insisting that they are still in it for the long haul, also likely removes the final obstacle to Romney winning every remaining Republican contest.  

I asked Christian Whiton, a former U.S. State Department senior adviser and regular Fox News contributor, for his take on the announcement.

“It was always highly improbable that a senator who lost his last race by 18 points would be the GOP nominee.  Senators often make poor presidential candidates, and losing senators all the more so,” he told me.  

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And, although our foreign policy views don’t always chime, Whiton agreed with me that in foreign policy terms, the debate moving forward won’t be much the poorer for Santorum’s departure.

“On foreign policy and national defense, Santorum added little that was noteworthy to the race. One of his very few forays was on Pakistan in a November debate, where he echoed Michelle Bachmann in endorsing the status quo policy,” he said. “In other words, he basically said we need to keep forgiving and paying Pakistan even though they harbored bin Laden, use terrorists as instruments of national policy and aid our opponents in Afghanistan. I never understood what was conservative or innovative about that.”

But as I say, more than anything this will be another boost for the Romney campaign as the media really starts to cast this now as a battle between Romney and Obama. And what does the Romney camp think? I asked senior Romney advisor Robert O’Brien for his take.

“Rick Santorum made the right decision for the country, the party and his family by suspending his campaign today. It’s now time for all Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats to rally around Gov. Romney in an effort to restore American exceptionalism at home and abroad in November,” O’Brien told me.

“Sen. Santorum ran an impressive race and exceeded all expectations for his candidacy. He’s still a young leader and will be an important voice in the future. Today begins the most important election of our generation and will present a stark choice between President Obama’s vision of a social democracy along European lines for America or Gov. Mitt Romney's vision of an opportunity society that embraces the free market traditions that will ensure another American century.”

Regardless of whether you agree, it’s clear that we can expect this campaign to be a bruising and brutal battle.

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