Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is taking back his comment that the country might as well re-elect President Barack Obama if Mitt Romney wins the GOP nomination.
Santorum emphasized Friday that he will support whoever wins the Republican primary. On Thursday, Santorum argued that Romney and Obama are so similar on the issues that Republicans might just as well vote to give the president a second term instead of casting their ballots for Romney.
"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous. This is just another attempt by the Romney Campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's," Santorum said.
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"I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why - Romney has sided with Obama on healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts. Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation.
"If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation. It's time for bold vision, bold reforms and bold contrasts. This election is about more than Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rick Santorum - this campaign is about freedom and I will fight to restore your freedoms."
Santorum was campaigning at a gun range in northern Louisiana and as he fired a .45 caliber semi-automatic Colt pistol, a woman in the audience shouted: "Pretend it's Obama."
Santorum was wearing protective ear muffs. He said later that he didn't hear the remark but denounced it as "absurd."
The Secret Service was investigating.
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