Hours after Santorum speech, Romney questions rival’s conservative credentials
February 25th, 2012
02:55 PM ET
3 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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    As much trouble as the republican clown show has caused our image around the world, I just wish they shut up.

    February 25, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Dave

    The guy is a SEVERE idiot with the personality of a table. The Prez is goin to eat him for breakfeast, lunch, dinner & desert!!!

    February 25, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Being a conservative may resonate with the birthers, bigots, baggers and billionaires, but carries little weight with the majority of Americans. Right wingnuts will eventually realize that when they wage war on seniors, veterans, workers, minorities, college students, public education, the poor, the middle class; it only makes makes the word 'conservative' as vile as any four letter word.

    February 25, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Each of the Republican candidates is trying to teel the ultra-conservatives that they care less about more people and more about the ultra-conservatives wallets than all the other candidates. All of them are saying we will take benefits away from the poor, we will cut funding for the education of America's children, the infirm, the elderly, health care and anyone else who probably does not vote the straight Republican ticket. The candidates want to cut funding that would make our food less safe, our water less reliable, our air quality poorer, our transportation more dangerous and our lives at risk. All to prove that they are more conservative than the next guy.

    Thanks for caring about us guys.

    February 25, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. DENNA

    Conservative credentials. LOL What the heck is that anyway? The I don't give a darn what happens to anyone as long as my life is swell? The I am better than anyone else because I go to church syndrome? America is suffering from conservative values left over from the Bush era. Do we REALLY need one of them in office again. Are we that masochistic?

    February 25, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Canuck

    I wonder about the thought processes these guys go through.... "I don't think he hates gay people as much as I do", "I don't think he'd go to war at the drop of a hat like I would", "I don't think he finds poor people nearly as disgusting as I do".

    I'm so glad I'm not a conservative.

    February 25, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. CBR

    If people are naive enough to believe that Romney did not support No Child Left Behind and that he changed his stance on abortion so easily, then good luck to them. Mr. Rpmney has gotten more and more Conservative over the last five years while running for president.

    His 4 years as Gov. as MA are now being swept aside just to be more conservative. How about being your own man and showing us who you really are. Otherwise we are voting for a phony candidate.

    February 25, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Valentina

    Right on, Gov. Romney! Right on! You are THE MAN!

    Romney/Rubio 2012!

    February 25, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Dave

    The 60 Minutes story on Mr Plastic will be coming out soon.

    February 25, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. cali girl

    Is that a deer in the headlights look?

    February 25, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. GI Joe.

    Credentials? I question Santorum's sanity,

    February 25, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Oh, Wow! Basing his non-conservative status on a vote for NCLB! That's stretching it. Now, if he pointed out all the earmarks that Ricko inserted, that would be more of a bell weather.

    February 25, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    I'm still questioning Romney's citizenship. He STILL hasn't produced a birth certificate to prove he's actually an American and eligible to run for office.

    February 25, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. FRANK FROM LAS VEGAS

    I'm no Romney fan but I have to agree that Santorum id the worst candidate the GOP could put forward. (0% of anything that Santorum says is a lie or a misquote or stats from a questionable source. His only tactic is to talk about hate and fear.

    February 25, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. ja

    calling oneself conservative is kind of lame, at this point, W was conservative, didn't show me a thing as president, may you guys need to rethink the conservative rhetoric

    February 25, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Newsflash: Neither of you are conservative. There is nothing "conservative" about being an elitist psychopathic corporate vulture, Rmoney. And there's nothing "conservative" about your theocratic opponent, the Frothy Ayatollah.

    February 25, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Wahoo, vote Romney!

    February 25, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. T'sah from Virginia

    ►Hours after Santorum speech, Romney questions rival’s conservative credentials◄
    In my opinion – ALL OF THEM – may be "very" conservative but NOT PRESIDENTIAL!!!

    Obama 2012!!!

    February 25, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  19. hayreen

    Immigration needs to be handle in two dimentional

    1. Secure borders and stricken visa policies
    2. Tackle internal illegal immigrants

    1. Secure all the borders. phically and technically .period

    2. Stop issuing citizenships to vistiors coming only with a purpose of giving birth and making thier children us citizens

    Alsylum visa applicants get a work permit and not greencards and citizenship unless they work and pay taxes for 10 yrs. Its human to give them shetler and opportunity to work and earn thier living.

    Greeb cards be issued very prudently but not a way for illegal practices of fake asylums

    February 25, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. Nothing new here

    What a disgrace.
    A flip-flopper calling out another flip-flopper.
    Pots calling the kettles black.
    And yet, Ron Paul has been the only consistent candidate that has voted his conservative values. Ron Paul is the one candidate that believes that the government needs to keep it's big nose out of people's personal lives, and who is taking birth control pills.
    As much as I dislike BIG government (and I DO), I have no choice but to vote for Obama.

    February 25, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. Tough USA

    Ron Paul has not won a state yet but is 2nd in primary. AWESOME !!!!!!!
    DELEGATES
    Romney; 93
    Ron Paul: 82
    Gingrich: 29
    Santorum: 25
    Unpledged: 14

    February 25, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. Tough USA

    DELEGATES
    Romney; 93
    Ron Paul: 82
    Gingrich: 29
    Santorum: 25
    Unpledged: 14

    February 25, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. CanadaONE

    ROMONEY buying you out the like can of sardines – you fish!!!!!

    February 25, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. Dennis

    Thanks to his daddy s money willard is an idiot from hardvard and poorer santorum is an idiot from no where.

    February 25, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. Dennis

    Willard is not in a position to guestion anybody and karl rove needs to look around for another winner who can even hope to come close to president obama

    February 25, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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