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GOP Budget Hero Paul Ryan Disappears From Santorum Stump Speech GOP Budget Hero Paul Ryan Disappears From Santorum Stump Speech

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

GOP Budget Hero Paul Ryan Disappears From Santorum Stump Speech

The Wisconsin congressman got praise from him before endorsing Romney.

photo of Lindsey Boerma
March 30, 2012

HUDSON, Wis. – The morning after Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tossed Mitt Romney his highly prized support in the Republican presidential nomination race, Rick Santorum refrained from mentioning the GOP budget hero for the first time since arriving in Wisconsin four days ago.

Santorum lauded embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, as “incredible” forces against “union bullies” during a rally here at the Hudson Golf Club. He then moved on without his usual follow-up: praise for Ryan.

Earlier this week, Santorum visited Ryan’s hometown of Janesville and devoted a half-hour speech almost exclusively to Ryan’s influence on Capitol Hill.

 

“It’s great to be in the home of one great Wisconsinite … who’s really making huge changes, really shifting the entire dynamic in this budget process, and really giving us an opportunity not just to make the case on the budget,” Santorum said on Tuesday, “but to make the kind of case politically for us to go forward and not just win this election, but based upon his blueprint, win this election and fundamentally change Washington, D.C., back to limited government. So thank you, Janesville, thank you – and thank you, Wisconsin – for Paul Ryan.”

On Friday, Santorum wouldn’t comment on Ryan’s endorsement of Romney, but he confirmed that he had spoken to Ryan “recently.”

Asked why he failed to mention Ryan in his speech here, Santorum laughed and shook his head. “Well, I’ll mention him in the next one, just to make sure,” he said. “I support his budget, he’s done a great job with it.”

Santorum in fact did mention Ryan at a later event, saying, “You’ve been giving us great leaders here at the state level with Scott Walker, and the federal level with Paul Ryan. Now give us a chance to have a conservative in the White House.”

One subject Santorum didn’t skip over was Romney, who leads the field in several recent polls of Wisconsin. Conceding that he doesn’t “do very well among people with incomes over $200,000 in the Republican Party,” the former senator from Pennsylvania sought to paint himself as the blue-collar candidate capable of winning over Reagan Democrats.

“We need someone who can talk and relate to folks who are out there battling in this economy, feeling like they’re swimming alone,” Santorum said. “Someone who can relate to them, who maybe doesn’t talk about being the CEO of a company and having, you know, jokes about firing people. We talk about what it’s like to grow up in a steel town and what it’s like to work with people who are scratching and clawing every day, who are suffering because of gas prices – and we understand the plight that they’re going through.  That’s the message.”

Santorum and wife, Karen Santorum, on Friday also made calls to Wisconsin Republicans in behalf of Walker, whose crackdown on collective bargaining rights for public employee unions led to a recall election scheduled for June 5.

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