Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) made the case Sunday for his viability in next year’s presidential election, despite losing his last political race.
“Yes, I lost my last race, but my first three races I was faced up against Democratic incumbents in two House districts and a Senate race, and I won all three. And in my fourth race [in 2000], President [George W.] Bush lost the state of Pennsylvania by 4 points — I won it by 5,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Santorum was elected to his first of two terms in the House in 1990. He was elected in 1994 to his first of two terms in the Senate, then lost to now-Sen. Bob Casey (D) in 2006, when Democrats also picked up several GOP House seats.
“2006 was probably the worst year for Republicans in Pennsylvania history,” Santorum said. “If you look at those competitive years, I’ve been successful because I’ve been principled. People don’t always agree with me, but they know where I stand, and they know I’m going to stand up for my convictions.”
Santorum said losing in 2006 was not the worst thing that could have happened — not standing up for his convictions would have been far worse. He said he believes that puts him in a good position in the Republican primary field, and he will face off in a debate Monday night in New Hampshire against most of the GOP candidates expected to run for president.
The conservative Christian said he hopes former Govs. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are judged on their records, not on their Mormon faiths. But, he said, “I think they’ve held positions in the past that have not been conservative, and I think they have to account for that.”
“What people are concerned about and what they saw in Congresses in the past and presidents in the past who were Republicans, is that they say one thing,” he said. “They’re real conservative when they run in Republican primaries, and then when they govern they don’t govern as conservative as they talked.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.