With Rick Santorum announcing the end to his presidential bid, the field is effectively cleared for frontrunner Mitt Romney. Commentators in the US have been looking at what this means for the battle for the top seat.

The bowing out of Mr Santorum is a chance for Mr Romney to move on and repair wounds suffered in the primaries, and also limits further harm, says Dan Balz in the Washington Post.

“His departure spares Romney from a potentially costly and ugly primary campaign in Santorum’s home state as well as the possibility of embarrassing defeats in other primaries,” he says.

Seema Mehta, from the LA Times, agrees, saying Mr Santorum’s exit “effectively ended a bruising intraparty clash that many feared was harming Republicans’ ability to take on President Barack Obama in the fall.”

Observers say that even before Mr Santorum bowed out, Mr Romney was broadening his campaign to focus more on the message he is looking to convey in November’s polls; now, say commentators, he can put all his energies into this task.

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