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NBC's Parting Shot to Santorum: 'A Campaign Filled With Highly-Publicized Gaffes'

Reporting on Rick Santorum leaving the Republican presidential race on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott proclaimed: "It was a campaign filled with highly-publicized gaffes....From calling President Obama out on education, to President Kennedy's famed speech on the separation of church and state....Just two of a number of comments he eventually walked back or was pushed to explain."

Mott also depicted Santorum as only appealing to a narrow group of voters: "Santorum's support was mostly rooted in a core of Republican strongholds, where his unapologetic push for social conservative values, something the GOP establishment largely sought to avoid, was enthusiastically embraced by evangelicals."

Mott's report mirrored a Tuesday New York Times opinion piece by abrasively liberal columnist Andrew Rosenthal, who in part ranted: "Mr. Santorum showed that he could appeal to the far right, and the way far right, and the way, way far right, and that he could use that base to make things really hard for Mitt Romney. And he illuminated the dark heart of the G.O.P., the part that thrives on fear and xenophobia and intolerance."

At the top of the report, Mott remarked on the venue of Santorum's Tuesday announcement: "In a small hotel meeting room befitting his cash-strapped campaign for president – its momentum fading one day after his ailing 3-year-old daughter Bella returned home from an Easter weekend spent in a hospital – Rick Santorum bowed out."

Later, Mott observed: "His exit...spares the ex-Pennsylvania senator the prospect of another embarrassing defeat in his home state, having lost his U.S. Senate seat six years ago."

Concluding the segment, Mott predicted problems for the Republican nominee: "Going forward, many Republicans fear the relentless pounding of Romney by Santorum could undermine his chances in the fall..." Introducing the report, anchor Brian Williams declared the GOP primary "went on longer, was more brutal and divisive than anyone had first imagined."

Here is a full transcript of the April 10 report:

7:01PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The start of the 2012 general election season might some day be traced right back to today. This afternoon in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, not far from the very heart of the Civil War battleground, Rick Santorum got out of the GOP race. The battleground that went on longer, was more brutal and divisive than anyone had first imagined. He won 11 out of 50 states. But it's another number that was trouble for the former Pennsylvania senator, 1,144, the number of delegates the nominee will need. And it's Mitt Romney who is much closer to that. We begin our coverage tonight with NBC's Ron Mott on the trail in Gettysburg. Hey, Ron, good evening.

RON MOTT: Hey, Brian, good evening to you. After waving off repeated questions over the past couple of weeks about whether he should get out of this race, today Rick Santorum made it official, leaving – yet leaving open the possibility he's far from done on the national political stage. In a small hotel meeting room befitting his cash-strapped campaign for president – its momentum fading one day after his ailing 3-year-old daughter Bella returned home from an Easter weekend spent in a hospital – Rick Santorum bowed out.

RICK SANTORUM: While this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.

MOTT: Santorum pitted his grassroots, every-man bowling alley, blue-collar roots against Mitt Romney's polished upper-crust image, with unexpected success.

SANTORUM: Against all odds, we won 11 states. Millions of voters. Millions of votes. We won more counties than all the other people in this race combined.

MOTT: His exit, with no mention of Romney by name, spares the ex-Pennsylvania senator the prospect of another embarrassing defeat in his home state, having lost his U.S. Senate seat six years ago. Santorum's support was mostly rooted in a core of Republican strongholds, where his unapologetic push for social conservative values, something the GOP establishment largely sought to avoid, was enthusiastically embraced by evangelicals. But in general election battlegrounds, like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, he could not top Governor Romney. It was a campaign filled with highly-publicized gaffes.

SANTORUM: What a snob.

MOTT: From calling President Obama out on education, to President Kennedy's famed speech on the separation of church and state.

SANTORUM: You bet that makes you throw up.

MOTT: Just two of a number of comments he eventually walked back or was pushed to explain.

SANTORUM: You know, we get a little fired up sometimes, and can say some things that I wish I had, you know, had a mulligan on.

MOTT: Going forward, many Republicans fear the relentless pounding of Romney by Santorum could undermine his chances in the fall, with barbs like this:

SANTORUM: He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.

MOTT: What's next for Rick Santorum? No word just yet, his campaign did today send out an appeal for money and confirmed that Mitt Romney has asked for a meeting, something Rick Santorum says he's open to. No details though, Brian, on when that meeting might take place.

WILLIAMS: Alright, Ron Mott starting us off from Gettysburg tonight. Ron, thanks.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.