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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Brownback Won't Endorse in Kansas Caucuses

After backing Rick Perry last fall, the Kansas governor is staying neutral.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback initially endorsed Rick Perry, but now says he won't back anyone in the GOP primary.(AP Photo/John Hanna)

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
March 9, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. – Despite attending rallies for presidential candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said on Friday he was not planning to endorse anyone in the Republican primary.

“Kansas is not normally engaged in the presidential process; usually it’s decided by this point in time, and I told all of the candidates, ‘You come, I will attend,’” he told reporters. But he insisted no endorsement was forthcoming.

Of his initial support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry last fall, Brownback joked, “That one didn’t go so well. So I don’t know if anybody wants my endorsement.”

 

Still, the fact that he is not endorsing Santorum could be seen as a slight to the former senator from Pennsylvania. The two served together in Congress, and Santorum is credited with helping to sponsor Brownback through his conversion to Catholicism in 2002.

The two men have had their political differences. When the conservative National Review ran an article in 2008 about Santorum expressing concerns about the conservatism of then-GOP candidate John McCain, Brownback told the publication in response that Santorum’s characterization of McCain “is just flat wrong.”

Still, Santorum greeted him warmly at the event, and the audience gave Brownback a loud round of applause as he showed off his gray sweater vest underneath his suit, a nod to Santorum’s fashion proclivities.

Santorum is looking to the Kansas caucuses on Saturday to give him additional momentum through the month of March after losing the big prize of Ohio on Super Tuesday. A big pickup of part of the state’s 40 delegates could help him fight the perception advocated by the Romney campaign that it is impossible for him to secure enough delegates for the nomination, an assertion that has begun to lose steam under more media criticism.

“You know the other day Gov. Romney was going through the math of all the delegates and said it would take an act of God for Rick Santorum to get all of the delegates he would need. Well, I don’t know about him, but I believe in acts of God,” Santorum joked during his event here.

He’s been attacking Romney particularly heavily in recent days for advocating that the federal government adopt the model of the health care plan he passed in Massachusetts.

“We already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people. We don’t need another nominated by our party to do the same. Gov. Romney reinvents himself for whatever the political occasion calls for. People may not like everything I believe in, people may not agree with everything I believe in, but they know that I believe in what I believe in,” Santorum said.

He argued that the election is about trust, suggesting that Romney is looking forward to the general election so that he can tack toward the middle.

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