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. vic , nashville ,tn

    Past loser endorse future loser not surprise

    January 4, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. the Situation

    Who cares who McShame endorse. This coming from the man that introduce the world to Sarah Palin and is family. If I was Mitts, I would run from any endorsement from him.

    January 4, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. becky - Las Vegas

    If I were Romney I would have said thanks but no thanks rather than being endorsed by this crazy man.

    January 4, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. James Tiberius Kirk

    Good. Let's get this over and focus on voting out Obama.

    January 4, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Mikey

    Ah yes, an endorsement from the the guy who though it was a good idea to put Sarah Palin on the ticket. McCain still can't stand the fact that he lost to Obama in 2008. At least Sarah gave him an excuse for a loss that would have happened anyway. Obama was just a better choice. Can you imagine the guy who suspended his campaign for one issue having to deal with all the simultaneous issues our President has faced? It would have been a disaster. Of course, we could also have a President Palin right now. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 4, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Not Suprised at Anything

    Time to get in line Republicans. The leaders have spoken they want Romney no matter what you think.

    January 4, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    One seriously screwed up neocon deathcult member endorsing another seriously screwed up deathcult member. Sounds like Rove's Plan to Elect the Next Neocon Robot is right on track.

    January 4, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    McCain shouldn't have any more respect since he picked Sarah Palin for his running mate in 2008. She had no business being on the ticket.

    January 4, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The memo has gone out. They are closing ranks. Circling the wagons. Eating their own, and lock-stepping.
    Bachmann left because she was asked to leave. She's just too caught up and crazy to have reached that wise decision on her own. Gingrich is beig told to stfu because he's next; H.W. Bush slammed him without giving it a second thought; Santorum might be the back-up boy; Paul is nuttier than a bag of cashews...... who's left? Mittens.
    Good luck with that y'all.

    January 4, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. PT

    McCain should hand over Romney his 2008 Concession Speech as well.

    January 4, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. JOHN

    Who cares Obama 2012'

    January 4, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Nothing wrong with a family feud. So McCain is only endorsing Willard to spite Santorum. Very unstatesman like.

    January 4, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. theuglypauper

    Is it true that when Romney started talking to the crowd after McCain's speech, the crowd was against Romney? That is more news worthy than what McCain thinks. Do you slant the news to what politicians want or report it?

    January 4, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Larry in Houston

    Smart Choice – Obama would mop the floor w/ Santorum. The republicans better put it Romney, or else hey don't have a prayer, with anybody else. They need to back him by the time Florida elect comes around. If they wait til after Florida, it will be too late, then Obama will have the edge, if the Republicans can't get their act together. In other words, if the republicans lets this thing go on & one for 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 more months, the better chances of Obama getting re-elected.
    I am voting Straight Ticket – since I'm a Democrat in a Republican State.

    January 4, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    Smart Choice – Obama would mop the floor w/ Santorum. The republicans better put in Romney, or else hey don't have a prayer, with anybody else. They need to back him by the time Florida elect comes around. If they wait til after Florida, it will be too late, then Obama will have the edge, if the Republicans can't get their act together. In other words, if the republicans lets this thing go on & one for 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 more months, the better chances of Obama getting re-elected.
    I am voting Straight Ticket – since I'm a Democrat in a Republican State.

    January 4, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. REG in AZ

    Remember, McCain is the one that chose Sarah Palin as his running mate; enough said there.

    January 4, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA 2012!!!!!!

    Get ready Tea Party/ Social Conservatives you have to to eat a big Mitt Sandwich. The GOP Board Of Establishment know what you need to feed your hunger, mm..mm..good!

    January 4, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    As J.C. Watts said last night, "Republicans don't fall out, they fall in line."

    January 4, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. FedUp

    Figures. They are both left, along with Paul. Don't care who endorses who.

    January 4, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. WhatsUpCam

    I think a McCain endorsement actually hurts a candidate... thanks McCain! Everyone who thinks you are a joke ,which you are, now knows a clown endorses romney... Thanks!

    January 4, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Larry in Houston

    2012 politics is not only going to get ugly, it's going to get Nasty, probably one of the nastiest in history. It's actually going to get downright "Bombastic"

    My gut feeling is : there won't be any more Presidents getting "re-elected" anymore. 1 Term is about it, for all of them, especially since the internet age has become popular / twitter / facebook / social media & etc & etc.

    January 4, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Nicholas

    It watched the endorsement and Republicans need to be fearful.The crowd was dull and didn't show any enthusiasm of being there. Mitt Romney doesn't have what it takes to bit Obama. His punch lines are flat, and he distorts the presidents record (guess that's the republican way-repeat a lie over and over and it becomes the truth). I also watch Obama's crowd in Ohio and clearly, enthusiasm is on the president's side. Romney asked for achievements:
    -Auto bailout which said auto industry (Mitt wanted to let them go bankrupt)
    -Consumer Protection
    -Health insurance available to 30 million uninsured
    -end of Iraq war
    -repeal of don't act, don't tell
    -economy growing after a free fall under Bush
    -18 months of private sector job growth
    -ensuring veterans are take care of
    -Obama killed Osama
    -23 top Al Quada leaders
    -have kept Obama safe through close to four years

    Romney is a dead duck walking, he just received a kiss of death from another loser

    January 4, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. carly

    dumb and dumber

    January 4, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. B

    When you get to the bottom of the barrel Romney is what is left and that is not saying much for the Republicans-

    Obama is smiling.

    January 4, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. obamamama

    then romney will endorse palin again? Line up another interview with kathy couric!

    January 4, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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