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No endorsement

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
Associated Press

The following editorial appeared recently in the Chicago Tribune:

The improbable yielded to the inevitable Tuesday, but grudgingly. Rick Santorum joined the ranks of the Republican also-rans, ceding his party's presidential nomination to Mitt Romney without a peep of support.

"While this presidential race is over for me, we are not done fighting," Santorum said, never mentioning the name of the candidate who would continue that fight. Instead, he rambled on about his miracle campaign, the righteousness of his cause, the devotion of his supporters and those made-in-America sweater vests. It was the guy with the heart vs. the guy with the organization, and the heart at least made a contest of it.

"Over and over, we were told, 'Forget it. You can't win,'" Santorum told supporters in his home state of Pennsylvania. "Against all odds, we won 11 states."

The competing narrative, of course, is that Santorum was the last bright-and-shiny hopeful to rise and fade as the wooden Romney plodded toward the finish line. Take your pick.

Santorum's showing may have surprised those who wrote him off early — how could he win a presidential nomination after losing his Senate seat by 18 points? — but it didn't stop them from writing him off again after Romney's romp in the Illinois primary. The talk turned to Romney vs. Obama. Cue the vice-presidential pageant.

Santorum pulled the plug as polls showed his prospects dimming in his home-state Pennsylvania primary later this month. As he did on the night of the Illinois primary, Santorum retreated on Tuesday to Gettysburg to absorb the blow.

For Romney, there's comfort in having a clear shot at the nomination at last, but he has some work to do on his vanquished opponents. Santorum pledged to work to defeat Obama, but you'd think the only way to do that would be to get behind Romney. On Tuesday, though, Santorum pointedly did not go there. Will his supporters easily transfer their allegiance to Romney? It will be a lot easier if Santorum gets first in line.

But a little more than two weeks ago Santorum said Romney was "uniquely disqualified" to be the Republican nominee against this president. Surely Santorum's turn as the not-Mitt-Romney candidate left him no illusion that November's race belongs to any not-Barack-Obama candidate.