McCain chooses former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum
January 4th, 2012
03:05 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain chooses former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum

(CNN) – Sen. John McCain threw his backing behind former rival Mitt Romney Wednesday in New Hampshire, choosing the former Massachusetts governor despite a bitter battle between the two Republicans during the 2008 fight for the GOP nomination.

In choosing Romney, McCain also elected to forgo endorsing a former Senate colleague, Rick Santorum, with whom his relationship has been tested over the years.

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"It is with some nostalgia that I return to this place that I love so well, but I am really here for one reason and one reason only and that is that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America," McCain said Wednesday to a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire.

McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2008, stalling a surge by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses a week earlier. Romney fought hard in the 2008 New Hampshire primary, considering the state a must-win given his status as former governor of neighboring Massachusetts and his long-time vacation home there.

Romney ultimately lost the first-in-the-nation primary to McCain, and eventually dropped out of the race and endorsed the eventual GOP nominee.

McCain and Romney sparred frequently on the trail during the nominating process, often over the issue of whether Romney had supported a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. During a debate in January 2008, Romney accused McCain of distorting his record on Iraq for political gain.

"Raising it a few days before the Florida primary, when there was very little time for me to correct the record, falls in the kind of dirty tricks that Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible," Romney said.

Despite their campaign trail arguments, Romney and McCain say they enjoy a mutual respect for each other. Romney was an effective campaigner for McCain during the 2008 general election, and helped the Arizona senator win a tough Republican primary in the 2010 midterms.

McCain and Santorum, who served together in the Senate during Santorum's tenure from 1995-2007, have a more acrimonious relationship. Santorum, who endorsed Romney in the 2008 election, recorded robocalls saying McCain didn't have the temperament to be president.

Asked about the calls in 2008, McCain shrugged them off.

"I'm a little puzzled because I think he thought I had the temperament when he asked me and begged me to go up and campaign for him. And I did. And I cut commercials. But I can't possibly explain it," McCain told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

Faced with questions earlier this week about his 2008 endorsement of Romney, Santorum said he made the choice to stop McCain from running away with the nomination.

–CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Also see:

Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'

Iowa outcome: What it means for the president

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity

Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises


Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. sara

    I know what McCain said during his "screaming" speech about Obama: You can run but you can't hide"..you are not going to destroy " our" foreign policy....His HOMIE already did that. He must have meant, stop freaking with our "war money"....and you are not going to destroy "our" economy....His HOMIE has already DONE that!! Didn't he suspend his campaign, before Obama gave him the beat down to go to Washington and have GWB tell him the economy had been destroyed. These people never cease to amaze me. Do they really think Americans are crazy, delusional or what?! The republicans destroyed our economy and now act as if they Didn't...isn't that amazing??

    January 4, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Ricardo

    Loser endorse loser, who cares?

    January 4, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Bored

    The only reason Romney isn't already chosen is that Evangelicals hate Mormons. If Romney was any other Christian religion there wouldn't even be Republican Primaries this year. That said, it's unlikely Romney can beat Obama because everyone is fed up with the GOP at this point, thanks to Boehner and his Tea Party House. Too bad there isn't a viable 3rd party candidate with a serious shot of winning.

    January 4, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Then, later this afternoon, Mr. Magoo walked up to a vacuum cleaner handle thinking it was a mic and started telling everyone in the Capitol Building janitor's closet what he thinks about Iran. Someone get this man some Namenda...

    January 4, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Obma would mop the floor w/ Santorum. "

    That's absolutely disgusting.

    January 4, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. once upon a horse

    is it just me or does it seem like previous GOP losers are running to Mitt
    McCain
    Dole
    Bush number1
    Quayle
    might be a bad omen Mitt would like to think over

    January 4, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Jim in San Mateo

    Unfortunately, Romney cannot bring this nation back to 1970 as Senator McCain would like. This nation must prepare itself for the challenges that lie ahead, not behind us. This will require spending more money, not less which is exactly the opposite of the Romney campaign of preserving the the wealth of the wealthy and leaving the middle class to fight over the scraps that remain. Unfortunately, because of the dismantling of education system by Republicans, there are fewer and fewer people who can understand this concept.

    January 4, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. patrica dickeNson

    McCain is a fool. Look at his V I P pick dig that that rat makes me sick

    January 4, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Well, well..

    Oh my. Empty suit has endorsed a candidate, eh? As if picking that wombat Sarah Palin as his running mate in 08' was any indication of his "incredible" decision making skills. Give me a break. SMH.

    January 4, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Indy

    Big news for Romney to win his first election in 15 plus years of trying and it only took how many millions to win by a landslide of eight votes against who ? Rick Santorum ? We all know McCains judgement skills soo..... McCain acted like a child while speaking about Mitts win, and it was all too obvious McCain is still licking his wounds from the pounding Americans gave him and Sarah in 2008

    January 4, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Robert

    The endorsement is not surprising – Mitt Romney and John McCain have a lot in common, which will become even more so after November 2012.

    January 4, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Bored

    Also, just want to mention that a McCain endorsement is not a detriment. Yes, he did introduce the world to that abomination Palin; however, McCain still is a respected politician. Yep, he lost to Obama and fanboys are annoying. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Obama is a failed President, he's made some hefty accomplishments. I also don't want Romney as President. But those who can only see left or right need to take in the full view.

    January 4, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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