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U.S. GOP candidate Rick Santorum quits presidential race (2)

(Xinhua)

09:07, April 11, 2012

Santorum did not mention Romney at the news conference, whom he repeatedly criticized as "flip-flopper" to suit the politics of the moment. Yet his drop-off was believed to clear way for Romney, the leading Republican candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

Santorum spoke with Romney just before he made the announcement, the U.S. media cited a Republican source close to the campaign as saying.

Santorum had resisted calls to end his race in the face of front-runner Romney's commanding lead, and been expected to hold on through the next GOP primary to be held in Pennsylvania on April 24. Recent polls showed that the two leading candidates are virtually tied in the state. But Romney is gathering momentum in the Republican nomination contest following recent victories.

Romney has accumulated 659 delegates, more than twice as 275 delegates as Santorum has won, well expected to reach the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination by early June.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are still trailing far behind in the race, and not considered a threat to Romney's inevitable nomination.

Romney made a prompt response to Santorum's announcement. He called his former closest rival in the race as "an able and worthy competitor" and "an important voice in our party and in the nation. "

The latest Gallup poll results showed that Romney had maintained a double-digit lead over Santorum for more than two weeks among Republican voters. Romney was favored as the choice of 41 percent of Republican voters and Santorum the choice of 25 percent.

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