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TRANSCRIPT: Rick Santorum Suspends Campaign for GOP Nomination

This afternoon, Rick Santorum announced that he was suspending his campaign for the GOP nomination. Below is a transcript of the former Pennsylvania senator's speech:

Thank you very much. It's always an honor to be here in this beautiful town of Gettysburg, such a historic town. First and foremost, I just want to thank everybody for the outpouring of prayers over the past weekend.

We had a difficult weekend, Good Friday was a little bit of a passion, a passion play for us with our daughter Bella, unfortunately getting very sick and we ended up in the hospital all weekend and we're here just to report that she is a fighter and she is doing exceptionally well and is back with us and the family and we are looking forward to spending a lot of great time with her.

As the role that we have as parents and her life and with the rest of our family, this was a time for prayer and thought over this past weekend; just like it was, frankly, when we decided to get into this race.

Karen and I and the kids sat at the kitchen table and talked about our hopes and fears and concerns and we were very concerned about our role as being the best parents we possibly could to our children and making sure that they had a country that, well where the American dream was still possible.

I think a lot of concerns that we had, that Karen and I had in particular for our family, was with what was going on in Washington DC and all of the problems that you've heard me talk about on the campaign trail; that that American dream was slipping not just from the hands of average Americans but for all Americans - but for all Americans that dream was slipping away.

And that we had to, as good parents, to go out and do what we could to take on that responsibility for our children and for children across this country. And so we started out almost a year ago now in Somerset, Pennsylvania and I told my story, our story, of our family. My grandfather, who came to this country and worked in the coal mines and my father who served our country in World War II.

And throughout the course of this campaign, I talked about my stories and stories of our family. But after a while it became less about my stories and more about what kept us going were your stories; stories of people across America we had the privilege of getting the chance to know and interact with.

You know when you travel around, once such story was a guy named Chuck who had a pick-up truck and joined our team and drove us around in his Dodge Ram pick-up truck for months on end and did so as a volunteer because he believed. He believed that we provided the best opportunity to turn this country around.

I met a lot of folks in Iowa that I'll never forget; folks like Sam Close, whose a talk show host. I'll never forget this fighter pilot, a man of very strong convictions welling-up and tearing-up about what was going on with our country and particularly with our national security.

And laying out not a three-legged stool of Ronald Reagan but a four-legged stool with the Constitution being one of those vitally important legs that we had forgotten about. People like Wendy Jensen who was our best volunteer; 5-thousand phone calls. And just a few days before the primary, because she is someone who is dealing with a disability, dealing with an illness, she passed away shortly before the caucus but was someone that I remembered her passion for the least of us, those who are on the margins of society as many would have looked at her.

Folks, even today because of our daughter Bella, who came to our rallies one after another in wheelchairs, bringing their special needs children and holding signs up of children saying "I'm for Bella's dad". Just a beautiful idea of, again, not my story but their stories was what really fueled our campaign and gave us the energy at a time when over and over again, we were told forget it, you can't win!

We were winning. We were winning in a very different way because we were touching hearts. We were raising issues, that well frankly, a lot of people didn't want to have raised. Our best phone caller asked after Iowa was a young man who came to our first event in Oklahoma in a wheelchair named Nathaniel who had spinbifida.

And wanted someone who spoke about people that, again, are overlooked by society or don't seem to be as valuable as others in society. Folks like the Duggar family who traveled around with us in their bus and gave their time and energy because again, they believed in the basic importance of having strong families as part of a strong country.

Wwe can't have a strong economy as you've heard me say over and over without strong families and a strong moral fiber that makes us the moral enterprise that is America.

Even fun things like the sweater vest. Amazing thing, that sweater vest. It happened on a night I was doing an event for Mike Huckabee in Des Moines and showed up and everyone was in suits and ties and I showed up in a sweater vest, and it turned out I gave a pretty good speech that night and all of a sudden the Twitter-verse went wild and said it must be the sweater vest.

From that point on the sweater vest became the official wardrobe of the Santorum campaign and the cool thing was we obviously have a big part of our campaign is the manufacturing base of the economy, so we of course sourced that sweater vest in a company that was making them here in the United States. We ended up going up to that company in Bemidji Minnesota in the middle of winter.

It was a beautiful day and we got a chance to see that little plant that had been around for almost a hundred years and it turned out we're the best customer that Bemidji Woolen Mills has ever had in their entire history. So it's been a wonderful story after story of people who have come forward.

Two girls who put together a song in Tulsa Oklahoma called "Game On" who have travelled and followed us around and over a million hits on YouTube of that catchy little tune they were inspired to give and even today we have folks working for us in Texas to make it a winner-take-all primary because they wanna make sure that we have the best opportunity for Texas and conservatives to have a voice throughout the course of this primary.

It has been inspiring to me the story after story we've been engaged with and it turns out that it really wasn't my voice that I was out communicating, it was your voice, the voice that you gave me from the stories and experience that I had. And that's what people say "how did this happen, how did we come from nowhere," it's because I was smart enough to figure out that if I understood and felt at a very deep level what you were experiencing across America and tried to be a witness to that, tried to be an interpreter of that, that your voice could be heard and miracles could happen and it did.

Miracle after Miracle. This race was as improbable as any you will ever see for president. I wanna thank God for that all of you, thank all of you across this country for what you have given, for hopefully not just me and our family but you've given a voice to those who are in many cases voiceless.

And we have tried to be a witness not just for your stories and voice but provide a positive and hopeful vision, not a negative campaign. We travelled around and did 385 town hall meetings in Iowa we weren't out there trashing anybody. We went out in our campaigns from that point on and painted a hopeful positive vision for our country, one that was based on how we could get this country turned around not just economically but reflecting the hopes of Americans, not just the fears, the hopes of Americans as what we could do to confront violent radical Islam and particularly the scourge of Iran and take on the problems of a sluggish economy and a Washington that has grown so big.

We put forth concrete solid plans many of which came from the people I had an opportunity to interact with throughout the course of this campaign. We did focus a lot on the families and dignities of human life and the moral enterprise that is America, and I know Joe Klein will be upset about this but one of my favorite articles is one he wrote, in which the headline was "Rick Santorum's Inconvenient Truce.

Talked about things that maybe we should talk about a little bit more but somehow get shoved aside in the public discourse. We talked about how we were gonna build a great country from the bottom up and we carried around our copy of the Constitution, and of course it was that Constitution that got the Tea Party folks excited about the operator's manual of America being discarded by those in Washington.

I think what I tried to bring to the battle was what Abraham Lincoln brought to this battlefield back in 1863 on November 19th, when he talked about this country being conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal back in 1863 in November 19th. When he talked about this country being conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

He was quoting, of course, the Declaration of Independence. Conceived in that declaration. And we talked about that declaration as the heart of American exceptionalism as to who we are. Because we will never be a country that can go forward as a great and powerful country again unless we remember who we are and what makes us Americans.

That's what our campaign was about. About what made us Americans. How we built this country from the bottom up and how, if we are going to be successful in the future, how we must believe in ourselves. And believe in that ability to go forward and do the same thing.

Against all odds we won 11 states. Millions of voters. Millions of votes. We won more counties than all the other people in this race combined. We were able to spread that message far and wide across this country. And what we found is that, well, we found that support, I found a deeper love for this country.

Every state I went to, and those of you who followed me around, I was "Oh I really love this state." A love affair for me going from state to state seeing the differences but seeing the wonderful, wonderful people of this country who care deeply about where this country is going in the future. Care deeply about those who are out there paddling alone. Who are feeling left behind and in some respects feeling hopeless. And want to do something.

Well ladies and gentlemen, we've made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table and against all the odds. And we made a decision over the weekend that, while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting. We will continue to fight for those voices. We will continue to fight for the Americans who stood up and gave us that air under our wings that allowed us to accomplish things that no political expert would have ever expected.

And there's a lot of greatness, a lot of greatness in this country. We just need leaders who believe in that. Who are willing to give voice to that. Who willing to raise us up instead of trying to provide for us and do for us what we can better do for ourselves. That's the message that came to me and it's one that I feel very very good about continuing talking to Americans about.

I walked out after the Iowa caucus victory and said "game on." I know a lot of folks are going to write, maybe those even in the White House, "Game over." But this game is long, long, long way from over. We're going to continue to go out there and fight to make sure that we defeat President Barack Obama. That we win the House back. And that we take the United States Senate. And we stand for the values that make us Americans. That make us the greatest country in the history of the world. That shining city on the hill to be a beacon for everybody for freedom around the world. Thank you very much. God bless, you.

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