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The Daily Tar Heel

Santorum suspends campaign for president

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s exit from the race could stop Amendment One from garnering enough voter support in the state’s primary.

Santorum, famous for his sweater vests and his socially conservative agenda, announced Tuesday that he is exiting the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and some say that his decision to step down might minimize Amendment One supporters at the primary.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said Santorum exiting the race could mean a loss for supporters of the amendment, which would ban same-sex marriage from the state constitution if passed on May 8.

“People will say well, why bother going to the primary if our choices are no longer viable,” she said.

Santorum’s exit could also skew polling results because his name will remain on the ballot for voters to select.

“The effect will be to take the race out of the race,” said UNC political science professor James Stimson. “Romney has won, past tense. Now it is just going through the motions.”

Santorum’s decision to step down was made this past weekend during a family discussion, said the former Pennsylvania senator in a statement.

He cited wanting to help his wife raise their seven children as a contributing factor to his exit.

Santorum’s youngest daughter, Bella, age 3, who has a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, was in the hospital this weekend with pneumonia.

But Stimson said in an email that Bella’s illness was not a factor in Santorum’s decision to drop out of the race.

“He is dropping out because he had no chance,” Stimson said. “His daughter’s illness is a convenient cover for a decision made for political reasons.”

Santorum is second to Mitt Romney in the current delegate count with 285 delegates. Romney has 661 of the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican nomination. Newt Gingrich has collected 136 delegates and has been vying with Santorum for the socially conservative base. Ron Paul lags behind with 51 delegates.

Even with Santorum out of the picture, UNC College Republicans Chairman Garrett Jacobs said the group will not yet endorse Romney.

“We’re going to wait until the campaign is officially over,” Jacobs said. “There are still those who support different candidates.”

A Public Policy Polling poll released Tuesday before Santorum’s announcement showed voters almost tied between Romney and Santorum.

The poll, conducted by the left-leaning polling firm in Raleigh, said that if Gingrich dropped out of the race, Santorum would have taken the lead in North Carolina with 42 percent of votes to Romney’s 38 percent. It has yet to be determined how Santorum’s exit will change voter support.

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