Romney: Santorum Gained Shot to Be a 'Leading' Contender

Friday, 10 Feb 2012 05:05 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says Rick Santorum’s sweep of three presidential contests earlier this week has allowed the former Pennsylvania senator to become one of the “leading contenders” for the Republican presidential nomination. Romney also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday Santorum got a boost — but no guaranteed delegates to help fulfill his goal.

“Well, we each chose the places that we would compete. ... He [Santorum] left Florida and Nevada and went off to the other states that didn’t have delegates to award — he made a good showing there,” Romney said. “We’re going to have a lot of races down the road. I think part of [Santorum’s] success was due to the fact that speaker [Newt] Gingrich really had a campaign that sort of disappeared from those states.
 
“Well, I think you’re seeing that Rick Santorum gets his opportunity now to be one of the leading contenders — he hasn’t been as visible in the sweepstakes so far but he is certainly is now,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “And that means that he will be under the microscope like all the rest of us have been.”
 
Romney said the anticipated scrutiny will show problems with Santorum’s record as a Pennsylvania senator.
 
 “The fact that he voted five times to raise the debt ceiling without getting — compensating reductions in federal spending, that’s the problem. The fact that while he was in Washington, government spending grew by 80 percent,” Romney said. “And the fact that he is defender of earmarks. . . . I think spending in Washington is out of control. And I wouldn’t raise the debt ceiling without getting compensating reductions in federal spending.”
 
Hannity noted that Romney’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2008 was considered one of his best speeches and asked what he planned for his Thursday talk before the group, as he apparently has not won the hearts of most conservative voters.

Romney countered that he won among conservatives in New Hampshire and won “solidly” among conservatives in Florida and Nevada, “So, I wouldn’t say that I haven’t been able to get good support from conservatives.”

“I’ll look at my record and describe my record as governor — some of those things get hidden over time, people forget, but economically, of course . . . we balanced the budget every year. We put in place a rainy day fund of about $2 billion,” Romney said. “And some things that we didn’t talk about a lot: We had an attack on religious liberty in Massachusetts as well. . . . I was one of those that stood up and fought against the intrusion on religious liberty in my state.

“And we’ll be talking about marriage as well. Obviously, the Supreme Court of my state began a process of providing for same-sex marriage. I led the charge to put in place an amendment that would reverse their decision — and we missed by one vote in the legislature to be able to proceed with that amendments,” he continued. “So, I have a record that being a strong conservative on the issues that matter and I'm going to point that out when I'm be get to with my friends at CPAC.”

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