Santorum ends campaign, endorses Rubio

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday evening ended his campaign and announced he is endorsing rival Marco Rubio.

Speaking to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Santorum said it was with sadness that he chose to suspend his campaign, but that he can further his goals by doing so.

"We are suspending our campaign at this moment," he said.

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“We decided that we can be better advocates for [our goals] supporting someone who shares those values.”

Santorum cited issues like promoting family values and supporting those without a college degree as what he looked for in a candidate, and added that national security was the most important factor.

"Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that's why we decided to support Marco Rubio,” he said.

Santorum said he spoke with Rubio for more than an hour the day before.

“I don’t endorse lightly,” he said, adding that Rubio is "a tremendously gifted young man, and he's a leader, he's a born leader."

Santorum is the latest in a string of endorsements this week for Rubio, who impressed Republicans with a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses. 

He came in third, just a point behind national front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, bolstering his case that he can be the GOP establishment's alternative to Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

- Updated at 7:52 p.m.