"We are not done fighting," said Rick Santorum as he exited the 2012 presidential race on Tuesday.
Santorum had faced an uphill battle against front-runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Five states, including Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania, hold primaries April 24.
Romney is spending $2.9 million in TV ads in Pennsylvania. But in deference to Santorum’s daughter Bella's illness, Romney's campaign pulled down a harsh ad that was running against the former Pennsylvania senator there. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Monday the campaign asked TV stations over the weekend to pull the ad and replace it with a positive, pro-Romney spot.
The 3-year-old Bella Santorum was released from a Virginia hospital and is settling in at home with her parents, a campaign spokesman said Tuesday.
Bella suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18 and she was hospitalized Friday as her father began a brief holiday break from campaigning. Santorum did not campaign Monday so he could be with his daughter, who was discharged from the hospital Monday night.
Campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said Santorum cancelled his first two events scheduled for Tuesday, but added a press conference in Gettysburg, Pa., where the announcement was made that he will suspend his presidential campaign. Santorum also cancelled an appearance on Talk Radio 1210's Red Meat Tour on Wednesday.
Romney had pulled out far ahead of Santorum in the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention and has been considerd for some time is the party's likely nominee.
The Pa. primary is set for April 24, the same day as the Delaware Presidential primary and primaries in New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Santorum's decision to drop out of the GOP nomination race is drawing a positive reaction from Republican leaders in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Jim Roddey, party chairman in Allegheny County and longtime supporter of front-runner Mitt Romney, said Tuesday that Santorum's decision to pull out two weeks before the state's April 24 primary is good for the party and for Romney.
State Sen. Jake Corman, a friend and supporter of Santorum, said the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania made the right decision, given Romney's advantage in money and delegates. He said he'd urge Santorum to stay in the race if he still thought Santorum could win the nomination.
State GOP chairman Rob Gleason praised Santorum and the other Republican presidential candidates for helping build momentum for the party.
Romney traveled to Chester County for a campaign event Tuesday night. His supporters say the timing of Santorum's announcement couldn't have been any better for the GOP.
"It definitely adds to the overall excitement of the event tonight," said Val Digiorgio, the Chairman of the Chester County Republican Party. "We've got a lot of calls from volunteers, committee people and the like. People are really excited about starting the general election right here in Chester County."
Republicans say Romney can now channel his efforts and resources against President Barack Obama.
"The party can unite that much quicker and that's important," said Digiorgio. "Raising the money and making sure we're on message and taking the fight to Barack Obama, a failed president."
Romney attended a campaign event earlier in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday. The Chester County event took place at the Mendenhall Inn on 323 Kennett Pike in Chadds Ford. During his appearance, Romney first acknowledged the contributions of Rick Santorum.
"He has waged a spirited and energetic campaign," said Romney.
Romney also had strong words for President Obama.
"I'm absolutely convinced he's out of ideas and he's out of excuses," said Romney. "So in 2012 it's our job to make sure he's out of office.
Along with his criticism of the President, Romney also focused on job creation and support for small businesses.
"Democrats seem to like the economy, they just don't like business very much, "said Romney.
Chester County Democrats also gathered outside of the Mendenhall Inn to protest the event. They claimed they were there to protest for women's reproductive rights and what they called Romney's tax policies of loopholes for the wealthy.
"He said he would do away with Planned Parenthood," said one demonstrator.
"People need to be paying their fair share, people like Mitt Romney and the millionaires and billionaires," said another.
While Santorum suspended his campaign, he still holds on to the majority of his delegates. They are bound to him until he officially and explicitly releases them to vote for whoever they choose at the Republic National Convention.