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Santorum And The Specter Endorsement

February 23, 2012

Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly characterized the partisan breakdown of the 109th Congress. The partisan breakdown was 55 Republicans and 45 Democrats.

In 2004, Rick Santorum endorsed Sen. Arlen Specter's bid for re-election. It was, judging by last night's debate, the single most influential endorsement in any Senate race in the history of the Republic.

To hear Santorum tell it, his backing meant Specter got another two years as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a post from which he shepherded John Roberts and Samuel Alito to Supreme Court posts, and dozens of other conservative jurists nominated by President George W. Bush through the gauntlet of Democratic opposition. To hear Mitt Romney tell it, Santorum's support for Specter gave Specter the opportunity to switch parties and cast the decisive 60th vote on health care reform legislation.

They're both right, to an extent. But Santorum's argument needs a little fleshing out, something that's tough to do in the 60 seconds allowed by a debate moderator.

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