Santorum Walks Back Obama Semi-Endorsement

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Rick Santorum might have gone off the Republican rails a little bit on Thursday when he appeared to suggest that it might be better to stick with Barack Obama as president than to elect Mitt Romney, so on Friday he and his campaign tried hard to walk that back. Santorum's original quote was "You win by giving people a choice ... If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future." By Friday morning, that had gotten picked up by commentators such as the New York Post's Abby Schachter as "Santorum Switches Teams, Endorses Obama." Apparently realizing Santorum's quote looked a lot like a tacit Obama endorsement, his team went into quote-reversal mode on Friday. Aide Alice Stewart (whose had to do some explaining for Santorum in the past), said on CNN's Starting Point: "Rick has made it abundantly clear once a nominee is chosen he'll stand behind the nominee and do everything we can to replace Barack Obama."

Speaking to Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey, Santorum himself walked the quote back a little more:

I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous. This is just another attempt by the Romney Campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney’s policies mirror Barack Obama’s.  I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it’s easy to see why – Romney has sided with Obama on healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts.

Morrissey, a Santorum supporter, had written on Friday morning that Santorum was losing track of Republican priorities: "It seems that Senator Santorum has forgotten the purpose of the Republican primary. It’s to choose the most successful candidate to beat Obama in the general election. It isn’t to test a few candidates to see whether the goal of beating Obama is worth the bother."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.