Santorum endorses Hatch's GOP challenger
June 15th, 2012
03:58 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum endorses Hatch's GOP challenger

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum added his voice to the Republican primary contest in Utah on Friday, endorsing the candidate challenging longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch.

"Plain and simple, Dan Liljenquist is the stronger conservative in this race." Santorum said in a statement.

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Like Sarah Palin, Santorum has become a high-profile conservative supporting tea party-backed challengers in major Senate races. Both endorsed Richard Mourdock in Indiana–who ultimately ousted Sen. Dick Lugar in the state's May primary–as well as Ted Cruz in Texas, who has forced establishment-backed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst into a run-off this summer.

In Utah, however, Palin surprised many last month when she backed the incumbent Hatch, saying in her endorsement the six-term senator was "part of the one percent of national politicians who I think should be reelected."

A former state senator, Liljenquist has the backing of some local and national tea party groups. Hatch, however, has managed to trumpet his conservative credentials, learning a lesson from former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, who lost his seat in a wave of 2010 tea party momentum.

But Santorum, who once served in the Senate with Hatch, said it was time to elect an "authentic" conservative.

"I've known Orrin Hatch for years and believe he is a very good man, but in a deeply conservative state like Utah, we must elect authentic conservatives," he said. "I believe Dan Liljenquist is that candidate."

On Friday, Liljenquist said he was grateful to have the support of Santorum.

"His strong conservative voice is well-known in this nation and this state. He recognizes the need for change in the United States Senate and for true fiscal leadership," he said.

At the state's GOP convention in April, Liljenquist gained enough votes to prevent Hatch from crossing the 60% delegate threshold needed to avoid a primary.

The two candidates will face off one final time during the June 26 primary.

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Filed under: 2012 • Orrin Hatch • Rick Santorum • Senate • Utah
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. John in CA

    The party is going neo con. It's already so far right that middle of the road moderates are being branded liberal lunatics. The Citizens United and Tea Party exaggeration has to be attacked and ended.

    June 15, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Rick Santorum better never use his little daughter Bella again as a coverup as to why he can't continue on with anything when he finds himself losing. I find him to be the must hypocritical and disgusting person there is, poor little Bella.

    June 15, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. v_mag

    The states are vying with each other to see which can elect the stupidest, greediest, most hateful Republican to Congress. Utah is in that race. Orrin Hatch, as disgusting as his record is, cannot fit into the extremist Repugnant Party anymore, just like Ronald Rayguns, George H.W., and all the old guard.

    June 15, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. g

    miss the old republican christian, he,s a patriot , thing . without it its boring

    June 15, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Namejkane fl SEND THE THREE TIME LOSER romney HOME AND MAKE IT FOUR.

    Just another republican bafoon party bozo trying to get on the clown bus and maybe get a temperary job,till Nov .anyway !!

    June 15, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. switters

    Ah, the GOP turns on itself..............

    June 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Jim Hahn

    Another case of Republicans eating their own. Very good story on Yahoo this morning about Republicans in state legislatures and governors going at and ending up in ideological purity wars and getting nothing done. Gee, that sounds just like Congress?

    June 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Mark in Seattle

    The right wing taliban has spoken.

    June 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Mark in Seattle

    Rick is just full of himself isn't he?

    June 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Mike

    Let's hear it for teh Tea PArty....white, wealthy and full of anger and hatred. Just what this counrty needs. A party that is the most divisive ever. Rick is now it's spokesman.

    June 15, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The teabaggers won't rest until the unhinged GOBP becomes the 2012 Whig party.

    June 15, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Not supporting a fellow senator? So much for the loyalty for members of the chamber.

    June 15, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. T'sah from Virginia

    ◄◄Gingrich: 'Yes we can' is now 'Why we couldn't'◄
    And why Obama COULDN’T – Is because Congress WOULDN’T
    Why Congress WOULDN’T – We now all know what that meant
    Their number one objective was to make – Obama a one-term President

    I posted this in the past and I will post it again – ginGRINCH and Santorum are out to “destroy” R-Money’s process and R-Money is too dumb to realize it!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward

    June 15, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. scott

    With unemployment at over 8.0% millions of Citizens unemployed, Obama now wants to give work permits to illegals under 30 in order for them to work. This is a direct slap in the face to Millions of Middle Class people that are out of work. It shows all Obama cares about is getting elected again. Even if it means screwing the people of this country. He is right this is class warfare, he is waging war against the working class. What a poor excuse for a human and a man

    June 15, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |