Santorum Has A History of Putting Politics Over Principle Santorum Has A History of Putting Politics Over Principle

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 25, 2012

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney left no stone unturned in attacking fellow frontrunner and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum during last Wednesday’s GOP primary debate.

I don’t blame Romney for taking the opportunity to attack Santorum for endorsing him in one political election – saying at the time he was “a conservative and someone we can trust” – then denouncing the statement because it was no longer politically convenient.

Santorum’s hypocritical attacks on Romney are just one example of a time Santorum has chosen politics over principle.

Native Pennsylvanians, myself included, remember Santorum’s controversial endorsement of then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter over then-Congressman Pat Toomey in the 2004 U.S. Senate primary. Establishment Republicans – like Santorum – were worried the Democrats would take control of the upper chamber and prevent President George W. Bush from nominating conservative judges to the federal bench in his second term if Specter, who was Chair of the Judiciary Committee, didn’t win re-election in the fall of 2004.

Santorum backed his longtime Senate colleague over the more conservative Toomey in the April primary, a move that he has since described as “taking one for the team.” Specter ultimately defeated Toomey by a mere 17,000 votes out of more than 1 million ballots cast. Five years later, on April 28, 2009, Specter played the system again and announced he would become a Democrat because he thought party switching would “enable him to be reelected.”Not surprisingly, Specter lost to the Democratic primary to former Congressman Joe Sestak in 2010.

A shrewd politician knows there is always a way to bury the skeletons in one’s closet. But Santorum failed to bury this skeleton on Wednesday night.

Santorum told Romney and the debate audience that his 2004 endorsement of Specter was part of a deal between the two Senate colleagues in which Specter would vow to support pro-life judges to the bench if Santorum endorsed him over Toomey in the primary. Specter has been making the media rounds since the debate, refuting this claim, telling both radio host Michael Smerconish and MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd that he “never had any such conversation” with Santorum prior to the endorsement.

Santorum’s 2004 endorsement could ultimately mean little outside of Pennsylvania. But it does bring up an important question about his legitimacy in the race.

If Santorum, who has painted himself as the true conservative in the race, can’t stick to his conservative principles over something as trivial as a presidential or Senate endorsement, how can we trust him to do what is right for America if it is not politically convenient?

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