Rick Santorum ends 2016 presidential bid after struggling in the polls

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And then there were nine.

Conservative firebrand Rick Santorum is abandoning his presidential bid and endorsing Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination.

“We are suspending our campaign as of this moment,” Santorum said on Fox News’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, before revealing that he was supporting the Florida senator.

“He’s a tremendously gifted young man, and he is a leader, he’s a born leader,” Santorum said of Rubio. “He is the new generation and someone that can bring this country together.”

CNN was the first to report the news of Santorum’s exit from the race on Wednesday afternoon.

Santorum struggled to gain traction ever since declaring his candidacy. He touted his firm stances on abortion and other social issues in an attempt to court the religious right, but many of the evangelical conservatives who backed his 2012 campaign seemed more interesting in new faces like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and New York businessman Donald Trump.

Santorum fared far better in his 2012 presidential election bid. He won 11 state primaries, including the high-profile Iowa caucus, before dropping out and endorsing eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

Santorum represented Pennsylvania’s 18th district in the House for two terms from before riding the 1994 Republican midterm wave into the Senate, where he served until 2007. He rose to the post of Senate Republican Conference chairman, the party’s third-ranking position in the upper chamber.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also announced on Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign.

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.