Politics

Rick Santorum Falls in Line Behind Mitt Romney

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 10, 2012 3:55 AM
Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum joined Jay Leno on the Tonight Show on May 8, 2012.

This week, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania offered his endorsement to the man who appears to have beaten him out for the Republican presidential nomination -- former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Santorum, who came out of nowhere to win contests in 11 states to emerge as the chief conservative opponent for Romney, sent out a message to supporters late on Monday in which he backed Romney -- but let his supporters know that he and Romney continued to have differences.

Noting that he had met with Romney earlier in the month, Santorum insisted that he would push the de facto Republican nominee to fight for conservative values.

“During our meeting I felt a deep responsibility to assess Governor Romney’s commitment to addressing the issues most important to conservatives, as well as his commitment to ensuring our appropriate representation in a Romney administration,” Santorum wrote before offering his endorsement to his former rival.

“The primary campaign certainly made it clear that Governor Romney and I have some differences,” Santorum noted. “But there are many significant areas in which we agree: the need for lower taxes, smaller government, and a reduction in out-of-control spending. We certainly agree that abortion is wrong and marriage should be between one man and one woman.

"I am also comfortable with Governor Romney on foreign policy matters, and we share the belief that we can never allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. And while I had concerns about Governor Romney making a case as a candidate about fighting against Obamacare, I have no doubt if elected he will work with a Republican Congress to repeal it and replace it with a bottom up, patient- not government-driven system.

“Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated,” Santorum added. “The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Governor Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this, the most critical election of our lifetime.”

Romney released a statement on Tuesday, praising Santorum.

“Senator Santorum ran a spirited race and his commitment to conservatism energized millions of Republicans around the country,” Romney said in the statement. “The race for the Republican presidential nomination has always been about restoring the promise of America. Senator Santorum and I share an absolute commitment to that goal, just as we share an absolute commitment to reversing the failing policies of the Obama administration, from its assault on freedom of conscience to its feckless foreign policy. Ann and I extend our sincere gratitude to Karen and Rick for his endorsement, and our continued prayers for the health of their daughter Bella.”

With Santorum backing Romney in a statement instead of a public event, some pundits -- including MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman from the Panhandle turned morning show host -- ripped the former senator from Pennsylvania, arguing that he needed to offer a higher profile endorsement of Romney.

Santorum’s camp noted that the former candidate would remain active. On Tuesday, the Red, White and Blue Fund, a PAC associated with Santorum, advised the media that the former senator would be appearing on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno that night. On his appearance with Leno, Santorum defended the decision for the late release.

"We decided to put it out late at night, so it would be sort of the first thing people would see in the morning," Santorum told Leno.

Santorum also came charging at Obama after the president said that he supported same-sex marriage.

"The announcement today by President Obama should come as no surprise to the American public,” Santorum said on Wednesday. “President Obama has consistently fought against protecting the institution of marriage from radical social engineering at both the state and federal level.  The president recently opposed the North Carolina constitutional amendment and, of course, he refused to defend President Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme court.  The charade is now over, no doubt an attempt to galvanize his core hard left supporters in advance of the November election.

“Thankfully the American public, when it has had an opportunity to consider the real world consequences of such a fundamental change to our society, has consistently voted for maintaining one man one woman marriage - the basic building block of our society,” Santorum added.  “I will continue to fight to make sure that the cultural elites don't further undermine the institution that gives the best opportunity for healthy, happy children and a just and prosperous society." 

While U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas remains in Romney's path, the other former candidates have all fallen in line behind Romney.



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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