Santorum suspends campaign

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After months of scraping along, often playing the thorn in Mitt Romney’s side, Rick Santorum has now suspended his campaign for president, effectively ending his run for the white house. Since the start of the primary season here in Iowa Santorum’s been Romany’s toughest opponent often defying the odds.

"Against all odds we won 11 states," said Santorum this afternoon.

His was a campaign that often grabbed headlines, and gave frontrunner Mitt Romney fits. Rick Santorum got his start here in Iowa. Losing, but eventually winning our first in the nation caucuses, while building some serious momentum.

"Millions of votes. We won more counties than any of the other candidates combined," says Santorum.

But today that all came to an end as the man known for his sweater-vests suspended his presidential campaign. Citing family issues, specifically health concerns with his 3 year daughter Isabella who's been battling a rare developmental disorder.

"She is a fighter and she is doing exceptionally well," Santorum explained today.

This announcement comes exactly two weeks before the primary in Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania. A race he has called a must win, Santorum's seen a double-digit lead in his home state steadily wilt away. Thanks in large part to an onslaught of political attack ads from the Mitt Romney campaign, and a series of public relations snafu's when dealing with the media.

By suspending his campaign Santorum all but clears the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican nomination. This afternoon, just before Santorum made his big announcement Iowa Governor Terry Branstad endorsed Romney saying all Republicans need to come together and support the Massachusetts governor.

“'Today, I am enthusiastically endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president. And I encourage all Iowans to join me in support of his candidacy,” says Branstad.

Right now Romney has 659 delegates, a candidate needs 1,144 to clinch the republican nomination. So while Romney is now truly the man to beat, he's not done with the primary circuit just yet. The next republican primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are exactly two weeks away.