Rick Santorum suspends his presidential campaign

After months of battling former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has announced that he is “suspending” his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

Santorum leaving the race essentially clears the path for Romney to take the nomination. Santorum followed Romney in terms of delegates with 252 to Romney’s 645. A candidate needs 1,144 to secure the nomination.

“We made a decision over the weekend that (…) this presidential race for us is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today,” Santorum said at a press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Tuesday.

Santorum cited his 3-year-old daughter Isabella’s ailing health as a reason for his leaving the campaign. His daughter, who suffers from a genetic disorder, was hospitalized over the weekend and released.

The announcement also comes just a few weeks before the Republican primary in Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania, where poll numbers are tightening between him and Romney.

“He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation,” Romney said in a statement. “We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity.”

While Santorum did not mention Romney by name in his speech on Tuesday, he said he and his campaign would continue to fight against President Obama and to support the Republican nominee.

“We are not done fighting,” he said.