Breaking news from CNN.com: Rick Santorum will speak live from Gettysburg, PA in a few minutes to “suspend his campaign,” or, as the not so euphemistically inclined among us would say, he’s dropping out. And so ends one of the more truly remarkable dark horse candidacies in recent political history. I’m struggling to think of a more unlikely presidential run in recent years and not really coming up with anything. To the extent that Santorum had any national profile when this race began, he was known for two things: radical social conservatism, particularly in the form of rabid homophobia, and a certain highly successful Google seeding campaign. For most of the pre-Iowa campaign, he polled in the single digits nationally, raised very little money, and was completely written off by every pundit. In his last race prior to this one, Santorum was absolutely slaughtered in his 2006 Senate re-election bid, suffering an 18-point defeat that stands as the worst for any incumbent Senator since 1980.
Still, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so taken aback by Rick Santorum. In this primary season, he proved himself to be a powerful retail politician with a genuine passion that could ignite his supporters. He was extremely competitive with Romney despite a crushing financial disadvantage and no significant support among GOP power brokers. I think its very safe to say that if the money were even between Santorum and Romney, the Man with the Sweater Vest would be the presumptive nominee right now.
But this is a cruel, inequitable world devoid of meaningful campaign finance controls, and so it is Romney who will bear the GOP standard against President Obama. Game on.