Rick Santorum: "Race Over For Me"

Leading challenger to Mitt Romney has called off his White House bid.

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Rick Santorum suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday. At a press conference in Gettysburg, Pa., the former Pennsylvania senator said he will end his unlikely run against presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The legitimacy of Santorum's candidacy has been in doubt for weeks after Romney took a commanding lead in the delegate count. Still, Santorum remained as the leading challenger to the man he characterized as a "Massachusetts moderate," winning 285 delegates according to the Associated Press. He did not endorse Mitt Romney during his 14-minute speech on Tuesday.

[See pictures of Rick Santorum on the campaign trail.]

Santorum, flanked on stage by members of his family, appeared somber as he delivered remarks about why he decided to run for president and reminisced about his campaign and the people he met along the trail.

"We are not done fighting," Santorum said. "We are going to continue to fight for those voices—for those Americans who put air under our wings."

Santorum's campaign got its kick start after his strong finish in the Iowa caucuses on January 3. He spoke on Tuesday about his experience in Iowa, where he campaigned for almost a year and visited each of the state's counties ahead of its contest. After Iowa, Santorum took his pick-up truck style campaign to the national stage and won 11 nominating contests in states such as Minnesota, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana. A tireless campaigner with very little funding, Santorum traversed the country in an effort to deliver his message in person, preferring to shake hands instead of run expensive ad campaigns. He staked out a position as the true conservative, appealing to the Republican base with his stances on social issues such as abortion.

"It was a love affair for me, going from state to state...seeing the wonderful people of this country who care deeply about where this country is going in the future," Santorum said.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

Santorum spoke on Tuesday about the reasons why he entered the campaign in the first place, saying that he decided to run for president "at his kitchen table" out of a responsibility to his children. One of his children, Bella—who suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18—had to be hospitalized over the weekend, prompting Santorum to take the weekend off. He said Tuesday that Bella is well and back with the family.

With Santorum's announcement, it appears that the long, divisive Republican primary season has finally come to an end, as only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are left to challenge Mitt Romney. Gingrich acknowledged this week that Romney would be the GOP nominee to face off against President Obama this November.