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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Santorum Is Endorsed for Nomination by Former Romney Supporter

From Bloomberg Business Week
By Lisa Lerer and Mark Niquette
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, accompanied by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine leaves a news conference outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Friday, where DeWine announced his support for Santorum.

Rick Santorum was endorsed in the Republican presidential race by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, another sign he is gaining ground on rival Mitt Romney.

Standing next to Santorum yesterday on the steps of the Ohio statehouse in Columbus, DeWine said he backed Romney last October because he thought the former Massachusetts governor was the best candidate to defeat President Barack Obama. DeWine said he no longer believes that after the campaign run by Romney, with support from an outside political action committee, Restore Our Future.

“To be elected president, you have to do more than tear down your opponent; you have to give the American people a reason to vote for you,” DeWine said. “Rick Santorum has done that. Sadly, Governor Romney has not.”

The endorsement is a boost for Santorum, whose standing in the polls rose after wins in three states last week. He is now leading in polls in Michigan, which holds its primary on Feb. 28, and in Ohio, one of 11 states with a contest on March 6, Super Tuesday.

A victory for Santorum in Michigan, Romney’s native state, would position him as the leading candidate among the party’s anti-abortion-rights and anti-tax activists.

True Conservative’

“Rick Santorum is a true conservative,” DeWine said at a Republican dinner last night in Georgetown, Ohio. “He is a man of great principle.”

Santorum is using his background -- he’s the grandson of a unionized coal miner and the son of an Italian immigrant -- and his work representing a Western Pennsylvania steel district to woo manufacturing workers in Michigan, Ohio and other Midwestern states.

“You have an opportunity to speak loudly,” Santorum said at an appearance in Mason, Ohio. “Give a clear contrast between the two leaders who want to lead this country. Give America a clear choice.”

Though Romney was born and raised in Michigan, his wealthy upbringing and work as a private-equity executive has made it hard for him to connect with working-class voters.

Santorum and DeWine served in the Senate together before both lost their seats when Democrats made gains in the 2006 elections. DeWine came back four years later to win election as Ohio attorney general.

‘A Little Symmetry’

“There’s a little symmetry here, and the lesson learned that ‘06 was about as bad an election year as you can have, particularly in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Santorum told reporters. “We’re the best positioned to win these key states.”

Romney backers dismissed DeWine’s switch, saying his backing would have little influence on the outcome of the race. Before endorsing Romney, DeWine had backed former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s presidential bid, which ended in August.

“The swing of Mike DeWine from one candidate to another is not a significant thing,” said former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a Romney backer, on a call with reporters. “The most important thing you can get from an endorsement is their organization and frankly, as I understand it, attorney generals don’t have that much of a political organization.”

Early voting started Jan. 31 in Ohio, which is one of the 11 states conducting nomination contests on March 6.

Escalating Attacks


The endorsement comes as attacks escalate in the Michigan race, with Romney and Santorum running advertising on local television.

Santorum began airing two commercials this morning, including one that shows a Romney look-alike trying to shoot mud at Santorum. The ad, called “Rombo,” criticizes Romney and a political committee that supports him for spending millions of dollars on advertisements attacking Republicans.

Romney’s newest ad, which also began airing yesterday, attacks Santorum for pursuing the parochial spending projects known as earmarks when he was a senator.

The other remaining Republican presidential contenders -- former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas -- haven’t actively campaigned in Michigan. Gingrich has been in the Los Angeles area and Paul held rallies in Idaho and Washington state.

Gingrich hasn’t aired a television ad since Jan. 31, when he lost the Florida primary to Romney, and a political committee independently supporting his campaign was last on television on Feb. 7, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the group, Winning Our Future, said it began a pro-Gingrich radio advertising campaign around Republican-leaning talk shows this week.

Internet Ads

Paul hasn’t been on television since Jan. 29, CMAG data show. A political committee backing his candidacy is focusing its spending on Internet advertising.

CNN this week canceled a debate among the candidates scheduled for March 1 in Georgia, another of the states with a March 6 contest.

The Romney campaign had announced he wouldn’t participate in the debate, saying in a statement he would be “campaigning in other parts of the country.” CNN said Paul’s campaign also declined an invitation to the gathering.

The decision was a blow to Gingrich, whose debate appearances have fueled his campaign.

Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino billionaire, might be considering a $10 million donation to Winning Our Future by the end of the month, according to CNN and CBS News.

Ron Reese, a spokesman to Adelson, wouldn’t confirm those reports. Adelson’s family has contributed at least $11 million to Winning Our Future, according to FEC reports.
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