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Why Rick Santorum Decided to Call It Quits

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum’s decision to cut short his quest for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday came after an intense weekend of thought, prayer and conference calls.

According to top sources in the campaign, the former Pennsylvania senator did not reach his decision until late Monday night after a series of conversations with his family and closest aides.  His choice to end his bid exactly two weeks to the day before the April 24 Pennsylvania primary came down two major considerations:

First, the Santorum campaign came to terms with the fact that Texas was never going to become a winner-take-all primary, likely denying them a huge treasure chest of more than 150 delegates they hoped would help narrow the gap with Mitt Romney on the delegate scoreboard.

Second, Newt Gingrich showed no signs of exiting the race completely any time soon, the Santorum team concluded.  They felt that they needed Gingrich’s endorsement and a large portion of his delegates to catch up to Romney.

“Rick is smart, he’s level headed,” Santorum’s national communications director Hogan Gidley said in an interview with ABC News.  He said that his candidate ultimately reached the conclusion: “If there’s no path, if there aren’t the delegates, then there’s no reason to keep going.”

Gidley said that this realization combined with a prayerful Easter weekend and the hospitalization of Santorum’s 3-year-old daughter, Bella, all led Santorum to step in front of a television camera in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday afternoon and announce that “this presidential race for us is over.”

Santorum’s decision, however, was not meant to be an escape route to avoid a potentially humiliating loss in Pennsylvania six years after he failed to win re-election to a U.S. Senate seat there, multiple aides said.

“One thing we did feel, we felt pretty darn confident about winning Pennsylvania,” said the campaign’s chief strategist John Brabender.  “We didn’t have the money to play in multiple battles…we just couldn’t compete in Delaware, Connecticut and New York at the same time as Pennsylvania.”

Brabender said the campaign had television commercials ready to go and county coordinators ready to be deployed.  But the Romney campaign was ready too.  They were poised to launch an all-out air war against Santorum, having reserved more than $2.2 million of airtime on television stations across the state starting this week.

“If there was a scenario where winning Pennsylvania would have lofted us to winning the nomination, we would have done it,” Brabender said.  “But it wasn’t realistic.  Even winning Pennsylvania wouldn’t make a difference.  We didn’t want to do it out of ego; we wanted to do it to beat Barack Obama.”

Gidley emphasized that dropping out before the primary was not a choice borne out of fear: “Rick lost Pennsylvania before.  It didn’t crush him then, it wouldn’t crush him now.”

But, in the end, the decision did not come easily, and family matters loomed large.

“I told Rick whatever decision he makes he is a father first,” another top aide, who requested anonymity in order to discuss Santorum’s deliberations candidly, said.  “As tough as it was, he reflected on the fact he is a father first and this was the right decision for his family.”

The aide added, “At the moment it’s never easy to do, you pray about it, agonize about it, but at the end of the day it was the right thing for himself and his family.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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