Rick Santorum stops short of endorsing Romney

(CBS News) - All of a sudden, the Republican race for president is practically over. Rick Santorum's surprise decision to suspend his campaign Tuesday, removed Mitt Romney's most serious competitor from the GOP primary battle.

Santorum made the announcement in his home state of Pennsylvania. He didn't say exactly why he's getting out of the race, but he did mention his 3-year-old daughter Bella's health. She spent the weekend in the hospital with pneumonia.

What's next for Santorum?
Santorum lasted longer than anyone predicted
Rick Santorum ends bid for GOP nomination
Full CBS News coverage: Rick Santorum

But even as Santorum dropped out of the Republican presidential race, he promised to help his party win in November, saying, "This game is a long, long, long way from over. We're gonna continue to go out there to fight to make sure that we defeat President Barack Obama."

But Santorum didn't go as far as endorsing Romney, the man he's been trying to beat.

The former Pennsylvania senator trailed Romney in the delegate vote by nearly 400, and polls showed him losing support in his home state, which would've been an embarrassing defeat.

The Republican frontrunner called Tuesday "a good day" and stayed focused on President Obama as he pushed back on White House attacks that GOP policies are bad for women.

"The real war on women has been the job losses as a result of the Obama economy," Romney said.

Now that the path to the nomination is wide open for Romney, he now has to work on his image. A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll national poll gives President Obama a 2 to 1 advantage over Romney for being more friendly and likable. In fact, Romney's negatives shot up in recent weeks as Santorum hit him with attack after attack.

Santorum said at one point, "We already have one president who doesn't tell the truth to the American people. We don't need another nominated by our party to do the same."

At another appearance, Santorum said, "This is someone who doesn't have a core. He's been on both sides of almost every single issue."

Santorum also said Romney "would be probably the worst candidate for us to nominate to go after Barack Obama."

Santorum and Romney spoke on the phone Tuesday. CBS News is told Romney did ask for Santorum's endorsement, but there's no official word yet on whether that is coming. However, Santorum has said in the past that he will support the eventual nominee.

To see Chip Reid's full report, watch the video in the player above.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.