Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for president leaving Mitt Romney as the party's inevitable nominee.
'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,' Santorum said at a press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Tuesday (10 April) afternoon.
The extremely socially conservative Santorum had managed to emerge from a crowded field to become the main challenger to front-runner Romney.
Santorum was unapologetically anti-gay throughout his campaign making frequent and vitriolic remarks about issues like gay marriage which he views as a threat to 'the very foundation of our country.' He had said that if there is a failure to defend marriage as being between a man and a woman, 'our country will fail.'
When gay marriage was signed into law in Washington in February, Santorum called it 'a sad day for many people' and slammed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California, is unconstitutional.
Santorum was blasted last month by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the US, after he stopped a boy from using a pink bowling ball at a campaign stop at a Wisconsin bowling alley.
'You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We're not gonna let you do that. Not on camera,' Santorum told the boy. 'Friends don’t let friends use pink balls.'
Santorum was booed by a group of college students in January when he compared gay marriage to polygamy during a campaign appearance in New Hampshire.
His extreme anti-gay views even put off some of his one-time colleagues like former US Senator Alan Simpson who in February called Santorum 'rigid' and 'homophobic.'
Simpson served with Santorum in the Senate and said in a CBS News interview: 'I'll tell you, he is rigid and homophobic. He mentioned in an interview in 2003 about bestiality and gay and lesbians. I think that's disgusting. [Santorum] said, 'I want a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage,' and they said, 'Well, what about the people who are already married?' And he said, 'Well, they would be nullified.' What's kind about that?'
Santorum's candidacy and has extreme views on social issues has provided much fodder for comedians in recent months.
Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, described Santorum as a 'guy who is obsessed with gay sex.'
'This guy thinks about gay sex more than any gay man in America,' he said in January. 'There's a guy down in West Hollywood working down at Dorothy's and Dildos who does not think about gay sex as much as Rick Santorum.'