Hours after Santorum speech, Romney questions rival’s conservative credentials
February 25th, 2012
02:55 PM ET
2 years ago

Hours after Santorum speech, Romney questions rival’s conservative credentials

Troy, Michigan (CNN) - Mitt Romney savaged rival Rick Santorum in an extensive critique of his chief opponent’s conservative principles Saturday, just hours after the former senator spoke from the same lectern.

In a bid to win over conservative voters attending the Americans for Prosperity forum in Troy, Michigan, Romney touted his “principled conservative leadership” and detailed his record opposing abortion rights as Massachusetts governor - a record that has long been scrutinized by some social conservatives.

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As he moved to attack Santorum, his chief Michigan rival, some of the roughly 1,500 people in the audience seemed to anticipate Romney’s direction.

"I can attest to my conservative credentials by quoting someone who endorsed me in 2008 campaign,” Romney said in clear reference to Santorum, as some in the audience drew a sharp intake of breath.

“Sen. Santorum was kind enough to say on the Laura Ingraham show, he said, ‘Mitt Romney, this is the guy who is really conservative and who we can trust,’” Romney said. “And when he came out and endorsed me he said these words: ‘He said he is the clear, conservative candidate.’”

Santorum has said he chose Romney in 2008 in the hopes of defeating Sen. John McCain’s path to the nomination.

Romney then launched into a detailed attack on Santorum’s conservatism, using an admission Santorum made at CNN’s Republican debate in Arizona that he had voted to support the No Child Left Behind law despite disagreeing with it.

“Sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake,” Santorum said of that vote.

Romney expanded upon his criticism of that statement Saturday, painting Santorum as a flip-flopper and calling the list of things Santorum supported in the Senate “extraordinary.”

Picking up an attack being pushed by his campaign surrogates, Romney excoriated Santorum for his support of Sen. Arlen Specter’s 1996 presidential bid.

“Arlen Specter, the only pro-choice candidate we’ve seen in that race,” Romney said. “There were other conservatives running, like Bob Dole. He didn’t support them. He supported the pro-choice candidate, Arlen Specter.”

Romney concluded: “This ‘taking one for the team,’ that’s business as usual in Washington. We have to have principled, conservative leadership and I have demonstrated that through my life and demonstrated it as a governor.”

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Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Mitt Romney
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Varg

    It appears Romney will do or say anything to get elected. Corporate board rooms and money wars train you that way, and he was very successful there. We need a President who is humble and would do the right thing even though it is criticized and hard.
    If Santorum supported Romney 4yrs back, then does Romney expect Santorum to support even now, though he himself is in race? If John McCain decides to run now, will every other Republican candidate drop out of the race immediately? (you know all these candidates supported McCain last time) obviously no one is going to drop out. In fact, they will fight even more because McCain lost in 2008.

    February 25, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  2. Sirned

    I'm more conservative. No I'm more conservative .....Talk about sad and telling words of a juvenile party...

    February 25, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't think that either one has the something that people want. Santorum is so social conservative that many people who might have considered voting Republican won't because they can't deal with his stances on social issues. Romney can be seen as having so many stances on issue that people won't know what he is really talking about.

    February 25, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. Shann

    Santorum does not have the experience nor the skills to be president of this nation. We want someone who can bridge the divide between the democrats and the republicans. Santorum is a divider. He was a divider when he was in congress and he still is. I don’t believe the nation can afford to have Santorum sit in the highest office in the country. Sorry, -Santorum is the wrong choice for America.

    February 25, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. dreucalypt

    Romney attacking Santorum from the right? Truly the man has no shame at all!

    February 25, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  6. Fred Riek

    I love this crazed look for Mitt. If they ever make a movie about Mitt, Jim Carey has a lock on it. Mitt Romeny, another tool!

    February 26, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  7. Fred Riek

    Romney is right in questioning Santorums credentials and Santorum is right in questioning Romney's credentials. Neither of them have it to be our President. But then, none of the other Republican wanabees are qualified either. 4 more years, 4 more years....

    February 26, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  8. tim12

    santorum like obmaisnot really qualified to be president.

    February 26, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  9. BeverlyNC

    No one cares who is more conservative. We just want to know who is an actual human being, who has real solutions to create jobs, restore our economy, and re-fund our education system. We want a leader who cares about ALL Americans – not just rich, white ones. So far. I have not seen a single Republican who is genuine, who has a single vetted solution for anything, who cares about education, jobs, or the middle class and shows the least bit of compassion for the poor, not one who has any healthcare to offer except to tell lies about President Obama's healthcare care that is WORKING, saving lives, creating jobs, and lowering costs. I see nothing worthwhile or believeable in any Republican candidate. I will stand with MY President who stands up and fights for ALL Americans and has a proven success record in everything he has done. Obama 2012.

    February 26, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  10. The Greedy Old PIgs declared class war on US!

    Pretty funny that either one questions the "conservative credentials" of the other. Rmoney is a psychopathic corporate predator aligned with the war-lovin' neocon elitists hidden among the 1%. Mr. Frothy wants Big Government off our back and up uteri everywhere as he seeks to create the Theocratic States of America. Flipper the Elitist Robot and the Frothy Ayatollah are both huge frauds, as is the GOBP deathcult itself.

    February 26, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  11. FedUp

    So what is his point? It isn't like Romney is a conservative in any way, shape or form.

    February 26, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  12. Indy

    Hearing Romey talk like he is severley conservative is just plain hilarious, but then agian maybe Santorums wife has 3 cadillacs which might make Mitts more conservative

    February 26, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  13. diridi

    not this nation needs conservative, but fixer, it is Obama that fixed and will fix this mess. Obama2012.
    PS: yesterday, i went to mall, it is full, i did not get parking.

    February 26, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
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