Finally, nearly three weeks after he dropped out of the Republican presidential race, Rick Santorum will meet with Mitt Romney Friday at an undisclosed location in Pittsburgh to begin the peace process.
This could get awkward: Santorum, the final serious threat to Romney’s nomination, had scathing things to say about him, including calling him the “worst possible person to put up” against President Obama. (He was arguing that Romney, who had a similar program as governor of Massachusetts, could not provide contrast on the issue of repealing “Obamacare.”)
Santorum advisers have said not to expect an immediate endorsement, though it’s a gracious symbolic gesture on Romney’s part to hold the parley in Santorum’s home town – and the presumed nominee has scheduled a campaign event at a cement factory, which could provide a venue for the traditional falling on the sword.
Advisers to the former Pennsylvania senator, a hero to social conservatives, say he just wants to make sure that the concerns of his constituency – he won 11 states – are heard and honored by the victor. Santorum strategist John Brabender has said his man also wants hard assurances that Romney would make repealing the Obama health program a top priority.
It’s unclear whether Santorum will be bringing along some Tabasco to help him eat words like these:
“I heard Gov. Romney here called me an economic lightweight because I wasn’t a Wall Street financier like he was. Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States? Do you think that’s the kind of experience that we need?” Santorum said at an Illinois campaign stop on March 19.
Romney, Santorum said in January, was an out of touch rich guy who “has had a difficult time relating to the type of voters we’re going to need if we’re going to win this election.”
“If Mitt Romney's an economic heavyweight, we're in trouble, because he was 47th out of 50 in job creation in the state of Massachusetts when he was governor,” Santorum said on ABC’s This Week March 18. “He may have had some success at making money for himself and his partners at Bain Capital, and I give him a lot of credit for doing so, but that's a very different thing than going out and creating an atmosphere for people to create - that create jobs.”
The Democratic National Committee made a handy web video with some of Santorum’s greatest hits on Romney for the occasion: