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

Romney Borrows a Page from Santorum

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum (left) with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

photo of Lindsey Boerma
June 16, 2012

Facing a group of social conservatives, his most restive constituency, likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Saturday tried on some talking points from former primary opponent Rick Santorum, a hero to the far right during the Republican primaries this year.

“Families are an important source of strength for the nation,” Romney said in a speech via satellite to the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington. He gave Santorum credit for “reminding us” of the importance, in the war on poverty, of getting married, graduating from high school, and having a job. The idea was central to the former Pennsylvania senator’s stump speech.

Speaking shortly after Romney, Santorum, who received a standing ovation, credited Romney for being “right on” in his message, according to CNN.

 

“He hit the points,” Santorum said. “I’ve talked to Gov. Romney, and I have no doubt – and I mean this in all sincerity – I have no doubt he understands the centrality of family. He understands the importance of family for our culture, for our economy, and for our future.”

In both of his campaigns for president, Romney has struggled to connect with social conservatives who are skeptical of his Mormon religion and his track record of supporting gay rights and abortion rights. In remarks lasting 10 minutes, Romney vowed to repeal “Obamacare,” which he said “attacks freedoms,” and criticized President Obama for “impinging” on “our first freedom – religious freedom.”

He barely referenced the economy, the focus of his campaign. He instead offered a lengthy anecdote about boat anchors as a metaphor in life.

Romney said a friend once relayed to him a story about his son attempting to save a water skier who had gotten into trouble. The son dove into the water from a pleasure boat, but the boat had no anchor, and so drifted away from the struggling pair. The water skier ultimately drowned, and his friend said he learned to always have an anchor on board. The story, Romney said, pointed out the importance of families as “anchors” in life.

“I’m appreciative for the anchors I’ve had in my life … the idea that a family comes together and shares a common purpose,” Romney said.

Taking questions afterward from Faith and Freedom founder Ralph Reed, who said he looked forward to hosting Romney next year “as president of the United States,” Romney delved into policy issues, continuing to hit Obama for his gaffe about the private sector “doing fine,” as well as calling for increased U.S. involvement in Syria.

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