Jae C. Hong/AP
Rick Santorum at Bob's Diner in Carnegie, Pa., Wednesday.
Much of the Republican political establishment, many GOP voters and political analysts were telling Rick Santorum that the time had come for him to end his quest for his party's presidential nomination even before Tuesday when he failed to win any of three primaries.
Those calls had only increased by Wednesday as Santorum fell further behind Romney in the delegate count.
But if Santorum and his team were close to taking that advice, that didn't come across in an interview NPR's Audie Cornish, an All Things Considered co-host, conducted with John Brabender, a top adviser to the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
"We knew this would be a tough battle and, frankly, we acknowledge that Gov. Romney is ahead.
"But I think it would be a mistake for anybody to just say, 'Well, we're halfway through the contest. Let's call it.' We would never do that with the Super Bowl. I'm not sure why we would do that here."
Team Santorum is pinning its dwindling hopes on the possibility that its man could gain momentum from wins in primaries still to come in Pennsylvania, the senator's home state, and Texas, Brabender said. The Pennsylvania contest is April 24; Texas is May 29. Santorum generally has done very well in the South, which is why Texas may still seem like a real possibility to the senator and his campaign's inner circle.
The Santorum adviser acknowledged that those states are now must-wins for his candidate to be able to keep Romney from wrapping up the nomination by reaching 1,144 convention delegates.
"I would say there are two states that we have to win. We have to win Pennsylvania and we have to win Texas. I think there's no doubt about those. I think that's possible to do.
"But the senator has made it very clear. If there comes a time when we know the governor is going to make 1-1-4-4 in terms of delegates, certainly we are going to support him and rally behind him."
For Santorum, however, that time was clearly not Wednesday.