Rick Santorum suspends his presidential campaign

Washington: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Tuesday announced to suspend his campaign, a development which analyst said paved the way for his rival Mitt Romney to get the party`s presidential nomination.

Santorum`s sudden announcement today came a day after his campaign said that his youngest daughter, Bella, has been released from hospital and that he would resume his campaign.

However, over the weekend the family of the former Senator from Pennsylvania had debate the latest in the current presidential campaign and they arrived at the conclusion that it was time to suspend the campaign.

"This was a time for prayer and thought, this past weekend, just like it was, frankly, when we decided to get into this race. Karen and I and the kids sat at the kitchen table and talked about our hopes and fears and concerns," 53-year-old Santorum said.

Declaring that his run had enabled "conservatives to have a voice" in the nominating process, Santorum cast his campaign as the longest of long-shot enterprises.

"Miracle after miracle, this race was as improbable as any you will ever see for president," he said, insisting that while his candidacy is over, "We are not done fighting."

With this Romney is now all set to be the Republican nominee, even though he is yet to reach the magical figure of 1144 delegates to earn the presidential ticket. As of now he has 656 delegates. Romney was followed by Santorum with 272 delegates, Newt Gingrich (140) and Ron Paul (67).

Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, was quick to congratulate Santorum on suspending his campaign.

"Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation," he said. .

"We both recognise that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity," Santorum said.

Newt Gingrich, who is still in the race, despite a distant third, said Santorum, waged a remarkable campaign.

"His success is a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles," he said.

"I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice. I humbly ask Senator Santorum`s supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa," Gingrich said.

"We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget," said the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

The Ron Paul campaign congratulated Santorum on running such a spirited campaign.

"Dr. Paul is now the last and real conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates, and press the fight for limited, constitutional government in Tampa," said National Campaign chairman Jesse Benton.