Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra: Sayonara Santorum

April 11, 2012

Former presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is featured on a button by a supporter who also wore the politician's trademark vest in this January 14, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Reed

It began and ended at a kitchen table in Pennsylvania. Rick Santorum’s improbable and surprisingly long run for the White House is over. But the Republican Party will feel the effects of this game-changing gambit cooked up in a kitchen for some time to come.

Santorum offered disgruntled voters true conservative credentials. He brought social issues and religious freedom to the forefront of the national debate. He made Mitt Romney work much harder for the nomination than expected, and lurch to the right in the process. His supporters may not go away quietly or fall behind Romney in lockstep.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, already put his demands out there: “If the Republican establishment hopes to generate this same voter intensity in the fall elections, Santorum voters must see it demonstrate a genuine and solid commitment to the core values issues.”

Santo said he was suspending his campaign – which could be interpreted as suspending it until 2015. Surely, he’ll be back. And meanwhile, he needs help covering his campaign debt. He asked today for “one more contribution of $25, $50, or $73.10.”

Here are our top stories from Washington…

After game-changing run, Santorum quits White House race

Rick Santorum ended his improbable run for the White House after leading a Republican tilt to the right that could dog the more moderate front-runner, Mitt Romney, in November’s election. Trailing in polls and fundraising, the conservative former senator suspended his campaign and cleared the way for Romney to clinch the nomination to face President Barack Obama in the November 6 general election.

  • For more of this story by Patricia Zengerle, read here.
  • For a snap analysis of what this means for the election, read here.
  • For a factbox on Santorum, read here.

Obama team slams Romney on ‘fair share’ of taxes

President Barack Obama’s campaign blasted Mitt Romney for not paying his “fair share” of taxes, escalating rhetoric against the leading Republican presidential contender to try to paint him as an elitist who is out of touch with ordinary Americans. Obama has made tax fairness a key part of his re-election message and he piled on the pressure by urging support for the “Buffett Rule” during a speech in Florida, which is likely to be a key battleground state in the Nov. 6 general election. For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

Poll shows Obama weak spot on economy vs Romney

U.S. President Barack Obama tops his main Republican rival in everything from personality to diplomacy – but when it comes to the economy, a new poll shows a potential weak spot in his bid to hold onto the White House. A Washington Post-ABC poll found if the election were held now, the Democratic president would win in a match-up against Mitt Romney by 51 percent to 44 percent. For more of this story by Susan Heavey, read here.

U.S. gun owners seek end to state barriers

Ryan Jerome took his .45-caliber Ruger with him to Manhattan last September and thought he understood the city’s weapons laws when he carried his loaded handgun on a side trip to the Empire State Building.  But Jerome, who is from Indiana, soon found himself in a legal tangle that he said illustrates the confusing array of gun laws in the U.S. and the need for uniformity. For more of this story by Marilyn W. Thompson and Donna Smith, read here.

Obama healthcare could worsen U.S. debt: Republican study

Instead of curbing government spending, President Barack Obama’s healthcare law could add up to $530 billion to the federal debt over ten years, a Republican expert on U.S. government benefit programs said. A study by Charles Blahous, a George Mason University research fellow and the Republican trustee for the Medicare and Social Security entitlement programs for the elderly, challenged the administration’s contention that the 2010 law would reduce healthcare costs. For more of this story by John Crawley, read here.

From elsewhere…

  • Obama faces skeptical leaders at Americas summit: Three years after being feted by star-struck Latin American leaders, President Barack Obama faces skepticism and disappointment at this week’s Summit of the Americas for failing to meet promises of a new era in relations with the region. Obama’s first meeting with leaders from the hemisphere in Trinidad and Tobago at the height of his popularity included a vow to mend ties with Cuba and a photo-op handshake with Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president and pugnacious U.S. critic. For more of this story, read here.
  • Attorneys for Martin shooter Zimmerman withdraw from case: George Zimmerman’s lawyers withdrew from his defense after the man who shot and killed an unarmed black Florida teenager telephoned prosecutors directly, contacted a television journalist and set up a website all without their knowledge. Defense lawyers Craig Sonner and Mark Uhrig said they lost contact with their client on Sunday and were concerned for his mental and physical health following a wave a protests across the country that have demanded Zimmerman’s arrest for the death of Trayvon Martin, 17. For more of this story, read here.

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