Santorum pledges to go "all-in" for Republicans in November

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, Friday, April 13, 2012. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
(CBS News) Just days after dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum on Friday pledged to go "all-in" to help Republicans "up and down the ticket" win elections in November.

"I pledge to you, I will be all-in between now and November to make sure we elect Republicans, conservatives up and down the ticket," Santorum said, in a surprise appearance at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual conference.

Santorum's statement would suggest that he will also go "all-in" to help guarantee the success of Mitt Romney if he clinches the GOP nomination, as he is expected to, but he did not explicitly pledge to do so.

Santorum suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday, eventually citing financial troubles for his exit. He had been locked in a bitter fight against Romney for months with little chance of obtaining enough delegates to capture the nomination.

Although Santorum has not endorsed the presumptive nominee, he did express support Friday for a comment Romney made about the importance of the presidential election with regards to the Supreme Court.

"As Governor Romney talked about with respect to the Supreme Court," Santorum said, "if this president is re-elected, that five, four court may be five, four the other way, and the things we take for granted in America will no longer be taken for granted."

"This election is the most important election in your lifetime," Santorum told the gun lobby. "Freedom is at stake."

In his exit speech earlier this week, Santorum said "We are not done fighting." He did not offer details on how he plans to do that, but his appearance at the powerful gun lobby's meeting Friday would suggest he means to continue touting his family-oriented conservative vision on the national stage.

"You can't have limited government if you don't have strong families," Santorum told the pro-gun rights crowd.

Santorum talked briefly about gun rights, arguing that the upcoming election is "especially important for the Second Amendment."

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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