Factbox: Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum

Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:17pm EDT

Workers hang a U.S. flag as the backdrop for conservative Rick Santorum's stage before his announcement that he is dropping out of the Republican presidential race in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania April 10, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Makela

Workers hang a U.S. flag as the backdrop for conservative Rick Santorum's stage before his announcement that he is dropping out of the Republican presidential race in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania April 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Makela

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(Reuters) - Rick Santorum suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday.

Here are some key facts about the conservative former Pennsylvania senator and his campaign:

Santorum, 53, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and was in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007. In the 2006 election, he lost his seat to Democrat Bob Casey Jr. by 18 percentage points, among the worst defeats of a Senate incumbent in U.S. history.

On the campaign trail Santorum described himself as a conservative "Tea Party kind of guy before there was a Tea Party," and touted his working-class background, social conservatism and Christian values. He is known for his opposition to abortion, criticism of homosexuality and opposition to the teaching of evolution in schools.

Santorum and his wife, Karen, have seven children. Their youngest child, 3-year-old Bella, has a rare genetic condition known as Trisomy 18, and was hospitalized over the weekend.

Overlooked at the start of the Republican race, Santorum surged to the top of the field after a critical win in the Iowa caucuses by 34 votes and sweeping nominating contests in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. His momentum began fading as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the leading Republican hopeful, won several state contests and endorsements from Republican Party leaders.

A devout Catholic of Italian ancestry, Santorum put his faith at the center of his campaign. He attacked Democratic President Barack Obama for an administration policy that would have required religious organizations such as Catholic hospitals to provide employees with health insurance plans that include birth control. In February Santorum made headlines by claiming that Obama operated on an agenda that was not based on the Bible.

In 2003 Santorum took heat for comments appearing to equate homosexuality with incest, bigamy, adultery and polygamy. In an interview, Santorum said the Supreme Court should uphold state anti-sodomy laws. "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," Santorum said.

Santorum's comments on women have drawn ire. In a 2005 book, "It Takes a Family," he wrote that radical feminists were undermining families. During his campaign, he said women in the military who serve in combat could compromise a mission because men might be overcome with emotion seeing a woman in harm's way.

(Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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