And then there was one.

Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he was suspending his presidential campaign, coupled with Newt Gingrich's earlier decision to scale back his effort, has effectively wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination for Mitt Romney.

Thus the outcome of Pennsylvania's April 24 presidential primary will be moot. Neither this state's voters, nor New Jersey's, whose primary isn't until June 5, will have a say in deciding the GOP nominee.

While that is unfortunate, the outcome gives Republicans their best choice to run against President Obama in the fall. Romney was able to withstand all the slings and arrows aimed at him since the caucuses and primaries began because he has always been seen as the most "electable" candidate the Republicans have.

That's code for moderate.

In fact, the Inquirer Editorial Board was prepared to endorse Romney for the Republican nomination for that very reason before Santorum's announcement made an endorsement superfluous.

Romney is the better Republican candidate because his views are closer to his Democratic opponent's. It is lamentable that to win his party's nomination, he had to tack so far right. But Romney's record suggests his general-election campaign will reveal his willingness to cross party lines for the good of this country.

Now that Romney doesn't have to fear the barbs of his more conservative opponents, maybe he will own up to the similarities between the Affordable Care Act fashioned by the Obama administration and the Massachusetts health-care reform law that he and that state's legislature devised.

The former Massachusetts governor at first tried to deny any credit for the most important reform he brought to that state. But when that became futile, he acknowledged his role, while trying to distinguish his state's law as altogether different from the federal statute patterned after it.

There are differences, but they are essentially the same, with both including a mandate that everyone must have some form of health insurance or pay a penalty.

Romney has had to retreat from the Massachusetts law to win the Republican nomination, but in 2007, when asked about the mandate by Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert, Romney said, "I think it's a terrific idea." He said "states that follow the path that we pursued will find it's the best path."

Therein, though, lies Romney's principal objection to what's called Obamacare. He says the individual states should be instituting their own forms of health-care reform rather than having their path directed by the federal government. It now looks as if he and Obama will get to debate that question in direct confrontations.

Santorum's decision to suspend his campaign makes sense. It had become obvious that Romney's massive war chest was paying for an advertising blitzkrieg that would destroy any chance that Santorum could come back from his embarrassing 17-point defeat for reelection to the Senate in 2006.

But now that Romney essentially has the nomination, it's time for him to use that Etch A Sketch that he has denied having and begin a new campaign aimed not at the GOP right, but at America's middle.