Santorum, a 57-year-old former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, won
the Iowa caucuses four years ago but managed only 1 percent of the
vote in the Iowa contest on Monday.
Santorum, in an appearance on Fox News announcing his withdrawal and
endorsement of Rubio, called the Florida senator "a tremendously
gifted young man and ... a born leader."
He said Rubio "can bring this country together, not just moderates
and conservatives but young and old."
Rubio, 44, finished third in Monday's Iowa caucuses, the first
contest in the state-by-state battle to decide who will be the
Republican nominee in the November presidential election.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas finished first in Iowa, putting a
dent in real estate tycoon Donald Trump's standing as the Republican
Santorum's withdrawal leaves nine Republican candidates in the 2016
White House race, with the next contest in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced earlier on Wednesday he
was suspending his campaign after a fifth-place finish in Iowa.
A favorite of the Christian right, Santorum announced his White
House bid in May with an eye on economic issues.
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He campaigned on a promise to boost the middle class,eliminate the
Internal Revenue Service and crack down on illegalimmigration.
Santorum won a reputation as a strong social conservative in
Congress, where he opposed same-sex marriage and the teaching of
evolution in schools.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham;
Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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