Santorum Takes a Break, Meets With Conservative Leaders

Rick Santorum will take a break from campaigning for Easter as his presidential hopes wane.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Menasha, Wis.

Following three defeats in primary contests in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Rick Santorum—the unflagging campaigner who once made 15 different media appearances in one day—is taking some time off from his campaign for the Easter holiday. Santorum's religiosity aside, his bid at the GOP nomination is growing increasingly improbable, and for such a prolific campaigner to take time off is cause for speculation.

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

Santorum talked with conservative leaders Thursday in Virginia about his plans going forward. CNN reports that Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, along with conservative activists Gary Bauer and Richard Viguerie, were among those advising the former Pennsylvania Senator.

According to the Washington Post, talk of dropping out of the race was wholly absent from the meeting, as the agenda was mostly focused on ways to get Newt Gingrich, widely considered to be a non-factor in the nomination process at this point, to step aside and let Santorum take the conservative mantle by himself. Gingrich has pledged to stay in the race until the convention in August, even though he has not been competitive in recent contests. After another Romney rout this past week, Gingrich did not make a concession speech.

[Read Santorum Optimistic About Pennsylvania.]

Santorum's decision to take some time to evaluate his campaign and strategize about the future comes a little under three weeks before the Pennsylvania primary on April 24, which promises to be a day of reckoning for his campaign. His staff has said that they are focused intently on winning Pennsylvania—Santorum's home state—but the most recent polls show that Mitt Romney has taken the lead there.

One month ago, Santorum had a wide lead on Romney in the Keystone State—17 points—but Romney's success this past week seems to have given him a boost among likely Republican voters.

Santorum's campaign has not commented on what they would do should they lose the contest in Pennsylvania.

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