Rick Santorum Helped Mitt Romney Become a Stronger Candidate

Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, officially suspended his campaign to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States on April 10th. The devoted conservative placed a phone call to GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney this afternoon, conceding the race. Speculation heightened that Santorum would drop out after he took the first week of April off to spend time with and care for his sick 3-year-old daughter. 

Almost no one thought one year ago that Senator Santorum would get past Iowa, let alone win 11 states and the millions of votes he did. The embattled Senator was ignored, marginalized and written off before his campaign ever even got off the ground, leading many in the press, on talk radio and the blogosphere to virtually ignore him. After months of old school retail politicking, Santorum came out of nowhere to snatch Iowa out of the hands of the Romney campaign.

Santorum had said in recent weeks that he would support the eventual Republican nominee, just as former Speaker Newt Gingrich and others have said. Soon everyone will hear the details as to whether or not Santorum will indeed be able to keep his word.

During the last few months of his campaign, Santorum took more than his fair share of shots at Governor Romney, stating that he was "the worst candidate to go up against Obama." Now we will see if Santorum will be able to undo some of the damage and help defeat President Obama this November, or if he will stay stoic and encourage others to follow Gingrich. The former speaker is trailing Romney by over 500 hundred delegates. To overtake him, he would need over 80% of the remaining delegates available, which is almost a mathematical impossibility at this point.

One thing for sure, it's a good bet that Romney will now be the Republican nominee, and to defeat a powerful incumbent president, he will need all the help he can get. Santorum and Romney may not have been too kind to each other on the campaign trail, but neither of them can say they want Obama to have a second term. Santorum was quoted as saying that he was going to stay involved and active in the coming months, which is leading many to believe that Santorum will soon do an about-face and support Romney, just as Clinton did with Obama in 2008.

There is another parallel between Clinton and Santorum that may soon be evident. Both were already well known, but came out of the primaries with even more clout. Santorum is primed for a cabinet posting or another run in a few years. Even if Romney were to have eight years in the White House, Santorum would still be younger than Romney is now. 

Santorum's hard fought race forced Romney to work harder and fight for every last vote. With Romney winning more and more conservatives, Tea Party voters and other needed demographics in the last few primaries; it became evident that Romney was gaining on Santorum as someone who could appeal to all wings of the Republican Party. 

Santorum has nothing to apologize for, nor should he ever look at his run as a failure. While he did not capture the nomination, he helped change and narrow the focus of the race. He also forced the other candidates to work a lot harder. A hardboiled egg is tough to beat, and Romney is much more formidable now than he was a year ago, and a big part of that is owed to Santorum.