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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum officially dropped out of the Republican presidential race yesterday, effectively guaranteeing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the Republican nomination.

“This has been one of the hardest decisions Karen and I have ever had to face together,” Santorum wrote on his website to his supporters. “And it has been hard in large measure because of you. I know that my candidacy has offered you a way to fight for your convictions, and I do not want to let you down.”

Political science professor Marc Meredith said “everyone was working under the assumption [that Santorum would drop out] for some time now.”

Santorum had stayed in the race for as long as he did to increase his standing in the Republican party, to increase his chance in a future election or to win a place in a Romney administration, Meredith said.

“He realized there was no way to get closer to the delegates he’d need,” Meredith added. He said it was unlikely but not impossible that Santorum would be offered a place in a potential Romney administration.

Santorum’s decision to drop out of the race may have been based on a number of factors. Texas will not likely switch to a winner-take-all election, lowering his potential delegate count, and Gingrich’s refusal to drop out of the race would split the right-wing vote. There was a distinct possibility that Santorum would lose the Pennsylvania primary — a critical state for his campaign. He has also had to cancel multiple campaign events as his daughter Isabella has been hospitalized.

“Many were speculating that [his withdrawal] wasn’t because he realized he wouldn’t get the nomination; it was because of his daughter’s illness,” College freshman and College Republicans Political Director Anthony Cruz said. “It seemed like he was going to go all the way to the end with this.”

Wharton junior and College Republicans President Laura Brown wrote in an email that Santorum leaving the race was inevitable.

“I’m sure he is … fully aware of his not so favorable standing in Pennsylvania,” the Daily Pennsylvanian staff member wrote.

Santorum had a rocky history with Penn students and Philadelphia residents during his time as a senator.

In 2002, 16 Penn students were arrested during a sit-in at Santorum’s Philadelphia office to protest his support for military action in Iraq.

In 2003, members of Penn Dems and Lambda Law joined over 200 gay-rights supporters to protest Santorum’s statements that compared homosexuality to bigamy, incest, polygamy and adultery.

At a Terrorism Week event in October 2007, he visited campus as part of Terrorism Awareness Week. A small crowd of protesters gathered outside of Steinhardt Hall, where he was speaking, to protest his politics and the week, which had been changed from “Islamo-Fascist Awareness week.”

In addition, Santorum lost the 2006 Pennsylvania senatorial election to then-Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. by more than 17 percent.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will stay in the now three-man Republican nomination race, but neither he nor Texas Rep. Ron Paul is likely to win the nomination. The Pennsylvania primaries will take place Apr. 24.

Brown said the Republican party can rally around Romney.

“He’s a good candidate with clear goals and great experience,” she wrote. “Romney’s appeal to more than just the Republican base will be his greatest asset in the general [election], whereas it was his greatest fault in the primaries.”

College junior and Penn Democrats Volunteer Coordinator Stephen Fritz said “people are happy to know [President Barack Obama’s] opponent.” He added that Penn students were energized about the campaign.

Meredith said that neither Romney nor Obama would likely change his campaign strategy in light of Santorum’s withdrawal.

“[Romney] will still try to get to the delegates ASAP,” he said, “But he probably won’t have to do as many ads.”

Despite the fact that Romney will most likely win the nomination, College Republicans will still not endorse a candidate until the official nomination.

“It’s just a matter of not taking sides and supporting the party in general,” Cruz said.

Senior Staff Writer Prameet Kumar contributed reporting.

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