. Rick Santorum, the 2012 Iowa caucus winner who got less than 1 percent this time around, said Wednesday he’s suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and supporting Sen. Marco Rubio.
“The best way to do what I set out to do when we announced the run for president ... (is) by not furthering our campaign,” Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, told Fox News Channel. “We are suspending our campaign as of this moment.”
Santorum became the third Republican to leave the race since Iowa’s Monday caucus. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 caucus winner, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have also left the race.
Santorum finished 11th Monday, ahead of only “others” and Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor, who got 12 votes, or 0.01 percent.
Santorum was the favorite of Iowa’s sizable Christian right bloc four years ago, topping eventual nominee Mitt Romney in Iowa and 10 other states, contesting Romney throughout the primary season. He once again ran an energetic, person to person campaign, but his supporters appeared to turn to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the 2016 winner who courted the religious right.
Santorum’s support of Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, was somewhat of a surprise. But he said Rubio, who drew decent support among evangelicals Monday, was in a “better position to do well in this race,” and praised his “optimistic” demeanor.
“We wanted to find a candidate that really espoused the values we believed in,” Santorum told “On the Record With Greta van Susteren.”
Santorum cited Rubio’s age (44), saying he was "taking the wine I've been trying to sell and putting it in new wineskins."