Rick Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter because he was a good establishment Republican in 2004, and that’s what the Republican President wanted. The precursor to the Tea Party movement backed Pat Toomey.
Santorum’s endorsement was no crime. It was a pure political calculation, one which many others in Santorum’s place would have made.
I only focused on the Specter endorsement initially because of the hypocrisy of Santorum supporters who where arguing that Newt’s endorsement of Dede Scozzafava in 2010 was a disqualifyer for Newt.
So on December 30, 2011, I posted about the background of the endorsement, linking to a video. I also pointed out the ultimate, although unintended, consequence of Specter being the deciding vote on Obamacare when he switched parties in 2009. The post went viral, with over 800 shares on Facebook, and linkage at various posting boards although I don’t recall any blogs or news outlets linking.
Curiously, at the debate last night Romney seized on the Specter endorsement and its connection to Obamacare, as I mentioned in my post earlier today.
As the endorsement became an issue again after Santorum’s second surge, Santorum supporters began to portray the endorsement as something of a heroic act by Santorum, couching the justification in terms of securing the Supreme Court. Santorum’s supporters essentially said that “but for” Santorum’s endorsement, we would not have John Roberts and Sam Alito on the high court.
My research inticated otherwise.
So on February 12, I addressed specifically the claims that the endorsement was needed to save the Senate and to secure the Judiciary Committee. In my post, I demonstrated that at best the judiciary justification was completely speculative, and at worst just flat out wrong both as to the intent of the endorsement and its mathematical effect. James Antle has a post today on the math, as well.
At the debate, Santorum doubled down on the judiciary justification, by asserting that he made a deal that Specter would vote for Bush’s nominees in exchange for the Santorum endorsement.
Now Specter is denying that there ever was a deal, via ABC News:
Santorum defended his endorsement by saying that Specter told him in a “conversation” that if Santorum supported him, Specter would vote for President Bush’s judicial nominees in his powerful role on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “He said, ‘I’ll support the president’s nominees as chairman,’ ” Santorum told Romney.
But Specter, now an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school, said he “never” made a deal with Santorum. He said Santorum’s defense wasn’t appropriate though it was “equal to the attack” by Romney.
“I think in these debates, it’s standard to disregard the relevant or important things and bring in the kitchen sink, anything that comes to mind,” Specter said.
I don’t think the Specter endorsement is that big a deal in itself.
What is a big deal is that Santorum doesn’t just admit, as he ultimately did with No Child Left Behind, that he made a mistake on Specter and that he went along to get along rather than standing up to the President as a matter of principle.
Now if only we also could convince Romney to admit that Romneycare was a mistake.