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Friday, September 30, 2011

Santorum: Someone in Florida ‘Is Shilling for Romney and Probably Perry’

From The Wall Street Journal

Former Sen. Rick Santorum suggested that Florida’s plan to move its presidential primary up to January is a ploy to benefit Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

“What I believe is going on is somebody in Florida is shilling for Mitt Romney, and probably Rick Perry,” Mr. Santorum said on Fox News Thursday. “They want to shorten the playing field now that these guys are ahead. I’m sure they’d like to have the election tomorrow. So by moving up the calendar, you help the favorites.”

The Sunshine State is expected to announce Friday that it will hold its 2012 presidential primary on Jan. 31, upending the rest of the nominating calendar. The four early voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — had planned to hold their contests in February or later, and now are expected to move up their own balloting to stay ahead of Florida.

A front-loaded calendar can have real consequences for both major candidates and lesser known ones such as Mr. Santorum, who will have less time to make inroads with voters and raise money, something of which he has relatively little. The former lawmaker did not say who he thought was “shilling” for Mr. Romney. The former senator from Pennsylvania has staked his longshot campaign on performing well in Iowa, a largely rural state where he has clicked with some social conservatives. Doing well in Florida, with its large and diverse population, is more difficult and requires expensive ad campaigns.

Mr. Romney has previously declined to comment on Florida’s date change. “I don’t get involved in the decision of each state,” he said after a Wednesday town hall in New Hampshire. “We’re ready whenever the process begins.” 

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