February 20th, 2010
01:05 PM ET
12 years ago

Santorum's regret

Washington (CNN) – Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum offered a mea culpa Saturday, telling conservative activists that he regrets helping Sen. Arlen Specter win re-election in 2004 and vowed to help try and defeat him in November.

Specter is a longtime centrist Republican who abandoned the GOP to become a Democrat last year. Six years ago, Santorum was questioned by his fellow social conservatives for agreeing to back Specter in the Republican primary against Rep. Pat Toomey. Santorum, who lost his own re-election in 2006, said he should have listened to his wife, Karen.

"How many times have I said this in my almost 20 years in marriage, 'I should have listened to my wife,'" Santorum said in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference. "Make no mistake about it I will be working day and night for Pat Toomey to be the next senator from Pennsylvania."

If Specter wins the Democratic primary, he will face Toomey, once again, only this time in the general election.

Santorum broke from the routine of other speakers addressing this three day conference and took a few questions from the audience such as: Why is he not challenging Specter?
"Because Pat Toomey's earned it," Santorum responded.

But the former Pennsylvania senator has not ruled a return to public life and has acknowledged that he is eyeing a White House run in 2012. Another questioner publicly pledged to help his presidential campaign if he in fact decides to run.

"Bless your heart," responded Santorum.

Santorum will visit early presidential-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming months, speaking before the influential Iowa Christian Alliance on March 9 and keynoting
the Cheshire County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in Keene, New Hampshire April 30.

Filed under: CPAC • Rick Santorum
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. noneofyourbusiness

    Why is he [Santorum] not challenging Specter?

    Santorum's Answer: "Because Pat Toomey's earned it," Santorum responded.

    The truth: "Because the people of Pennsylvania threw me out overwhelmingly last time I ran and I know I can never get re-elected, either in PA or in the USA"!.

    February 20, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. noneofyourbusiness

    ... the former Pennsylvania senator has not ruled a return to public life and has acknowledged that he is eyeing a White House run in 2012.....


    February 20, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Cyrus

    "The elementary error of relativism becomes clear when we look at multiculturalism. Sometime in the 1980s, universities began to champion the importance of 'diversity' as a central educational value" – Rick Santorum.

    I guess this nazi would be happy to overturn civil rights act the first day in his office.

    February 20, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. chelseafran

    Speaking as a Pennsylvanian, Santorum was an embarrassment and everytime he spoke, the entire Commonweath cringed.. He did very little while in office but work on select high-profile crusades and support his personal ultra-conservative causes.

    And anyone who brings their deceased infant home to "meet his brothers and sisters" and pose for a family portrait (not a rumor, stated by the family in numerous interviews and publications) is seriously unfit for public office. That's flat out abusive.

    February 20, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Eric

    This sort of "the label is everything" politics is exactly what is preventing Congress from doing anything useful. Specter did not suddenly change his entire belief structure or what policies he supports, and yet Santorum suddenly went from supporting him to treating him as the evil enemy...based on nothing but the label he uses to describe himself. Unless we as a country can get over this label worship and look more deeply at the issues, we will founder into obscurity while China and/or India take over our place as leaders of the world economy.

    February 20, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Man Who Loved Cat Dancing

    Santorum is way more offensive to pro-lifers than any pro-choice politician could ever be. He staked his ground that abortion is murder. Then he bargained with our babies live's so he could gain favor with the party big dogs. He is a fraud of the fraudiest sort of fraud!


    February 20, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Steve851

    I guess CPAC has to be a big tent, but Santorum and his ilk with all their social conservative crap that has nothing to do with the federal government are responsible for killing the GOP and electing Obama. The Tea Party, which ignores the Santorum BS, will hopefully lead the way.

    February 20, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Kathleen

    He wants to Help Pat Toomey in the electi and he is Not rutling out a Presidential run in 2012! Specter was smart to leave this Repub.
    nutso party that tell the Repubs how to think, talk and walk!

    Santorum lost the election in 2006 and he THINKS he can win the
    Pres. of the United States. Maybe his wifey Karen might have might
    have alternative plans for Mr. Whimpy Santorum.

    The CPAC party must be hard up to have Santorum speak! How
    can they sit their and listen to this bore.

    And, for Newt, who wants to rewrite the Constitution AGAIN, is
    he speaking at this insane CPAC party?

    February 20, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. Chris in California

    Rick is a dangerous man. Separation of church and state. Its simple, its clear and what part of any of that simple, clear statement does anyone not understand?

    February 20, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Kathleen

    I don't see the Republican Party members as Big, TOUGH men.
    I see them as whimpy old white men. A few of the wimps are
    becoming younger like Rubio, that will "lie" to win in Florida.
    Watch out for your So. Security. and Medicare. You better hope
    the Democrats win no matter what because they will try to take
    it all away.

    February 20, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. james

    In 2004 Republicans didn't have the guts to do the right thing because they didn't have the backing of the conservative base behind them. Santorum backed Specter because that's what you do if you're beholden to the party. Today, though, the party is no longer the arbiter of elections. The Tea Party people have given conservatives the backing they need to have the guts to bounce the "centrists" (what a joke calling Specter - a Democrat before he was a Republican - a centrist) out of power and re-establish a solid conservative ideology in America.

    February 20, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Chicago11

    Apology not accepted. Good luck on another career. You're ot welcomed back to public life.

    February 20, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Mesa Mick

    Santorum's real regret...

    He's a uber-right wing neocon and the GOP won't let him goose-step around in his brown shirt and riding breeches...

    February 20, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Reggie

    Specter is going to loose without any help. Trust me, he's done in the senate.

    February 20, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. John

    Santorum: "We did not lead"

    For once, a nugget of truth. Republicans have demonstrated time and again they're best at nit picking criticism rather than actual leadership.

    February 20, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Robert

    Santorum is Pennsylvania's regret. Which is why they booted him out.

    He's the male version of Ann Coulter, and along with her and a few other gems like Limbaugh – is a good example of what is wrong with this country.

    Why would I or anyone else take the Tea Partiers, conservatives or Republicans seriously when they have 'leaders' like Santorum, Palin, Bachman, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Pence, etc. etc.

    Not one new face with an inspiring or truthful (or independent) message..

    February 20, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Walter

    I thought that maybe he was going to have regrets about being a misogynistic hate-monger. Some may recall that Lee Atwater found himself in the same position on his death-bed.

    Maybe Santorium will grow a conscience when he finds himself in that situation.

    February 20, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Michael from Ventura

    The neo cons have him on "time out" for bad behavior...maybe they'll let him play with them again if he promises to tow the line and smears along with them. These people are unreal. I watched CSPAN last night before sleep. Saw rush, michele bachmann, rep. pence.......Big mistake! Nightmare for sure- and nightmare for America!

    February 20, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Charlie in Maine

    Really, really? After all your backward thinking party has done to this country .... that is your one regret??? I sure hope the electorate remembers what is going on at this meeting come fall. At this point I would not vote for a dog catcher with an R next to their name.

    February 20, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Lori in Texas

    As a liflong Pennsylvanian, Rick Santorum is one of the most hateful politicians to ever represent us. His views of the gay community being equal to or leading to beastiality just confirms his ignorance and his hatred for those that don't believe in his specific religious ways. Notice I didn't say Christianity because his version of Christianity is nothing like the one I learned about in church and CCD. How anyone could support his views is way beyond me.

    February 20, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Santorum working for Toomey will certainly help Specter. Santorum is so out of touch with Pennsylvanians.

    February 20, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Vexorg

    Rick Santorum, oh boy! Glad to hear his name again, I missed having him in the news. A man who wants nothing more that to be remembered as the next Joseph McCarthy.

    February 20, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Todd

    rick snatorum should come to PA and campaign vigorously for toomey. Considering he lost as a two termincumbant by 19% to a complete novice who essentially ran a campaign in which he said little and let snatorum hang himself the results would be good for the state and good for the nation. santorum is too far right for the deep south let alone moderate centrist Pennsylvania.

    February 20, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Todd

    Abd republicons did not lead? They led alright, right off a cliff. They had a chance to addres every single one of the massive problems facing the nation and instead of doing anything to fix anything they handed trillions to the hyper rich and started an illegal war.

    February 20, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Publius Novus

    Santorum is quite correvct in his assessment that the Republicans failed to lead when they held the Congress and the White House. But what he fails to realize is that the current Republican "solutions" to our problems are also failures to lead. It is not "leading" to default every issue to the "markets," and to blindly and deafly call for smaller government and lower taxes.

    February 20, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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