Santorum: Well Step Aside if Romney Gets the Delegates

NBC

Rick Santorum said Sunday he would bow out of the GOP presidential race if frontrunner Mitt Romney secures the necessary 1,144 delegates before the Republican National Convention in August.

“If Governor Romney gets to that required number, without a doubt if he’s at that number, we’ll step aside,” Santorum said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Santorum’s words are a contrast to fellow candidate Newt Gingrich, who has vowed to stay in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa, Fla.

“But right now [Romney's] not there, he’s not even close to it,” Santorum continued. “Less than half the delegates have been selected, we’ve got a long way to go and we’re going to fight the fight to make sure we can win.”

Romney leads the delegate count with 568 to Santorum’s second place 273. Gingrich is third with 135 delegates and Ron Paul is in last place with 50.

Santorum also brushed off the high-profile endorsements Romney picked up this week ahead of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, including Sens. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“If you listen to the endorsements, you know, they all say the race has to end,” he said. “That’s not a great endorsement of Governor Romney, it’s saying well we need to end this.”

Of Ryan and Rubio, Santorum quipped: “Everybody’s entitled to a mistake in their life, Rubio and Ryan are pretty young, they’ll recover from it.”

He disputed the notion that Wisconsin’s race was “do or die,” but acknowledged the vote would send a “strong signal” about the future of the race.

“This is a herculean task that we’re involved in and it’s going well,” Santorum said.