Romney: Santorum vouched for my conservatism in 2008

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at an "Americans for Prosperity" campaign event in Troy, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

TROY, Mich. - With rival Rick Santorum portraying him as too liberal for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney responded Saturday by invoking the endorsement of a prominent former U.S. senator - Rick Santorum.

Speaking to a crowd of about 1,500 people at Americans for Prosperity Forum, Romney brought up Santorum's endorsement when Romney ran for president the last time, in 2008. "Senator Santorum was kind enough to say on the Laura Ingraham show, he said, 'Mitt Romney, this is a guy who is really conservative and who we can trust.' And when he came out and endorsed me, he said these words, 'He is the clear conservative candidate.'"

Romney added, "He's right. I'm the conservative candidate, and what we need in the White House is principled, conservative leadership and I'll bring it."

The former Massachusetts governor suggested that Santorum's own conservative credentials are suspect because he voted for President George W. Bush's education law that introduced more government-mandated testing in public schools and endorsed fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter for president in 1996. "Arlen Specter, the only pro-choice candidate we've seen in that race, there were other conservatives running like Bob Dole, he didn't support them," Romney said.

Santorum had addressed the same crowd earlier in the day, and did his share of attacking Romney. He claimed that Romney and another primary candidate, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, were in cahoots during Wednesday night's debate to try to weaken him. "Yeah, look, I didn't know we picked president and vice president before the election," Santorum said, suggesting that the two have made a deal.

Ann Romney spoke right before her husband, and was fired up by the crowd in her home state. "I like to tell people, 'If you cut us open and we bleed, we bleed Vernors (ginger ale).' You gotta know that when you grow up in Michigan, you drink Vernors, and the other thing you do is you listen to Tigers baseball."

She described her anxiety watching her husband go through 20 candidate debates. "I've also decided no more debates. If we're going to do another debate, he's going to sit in the audience and watch me. And that'll be it," she said.

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