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Santorum explains late-night Romney endorsement on 'Tonight Show'

May 08, 2012|By Robin Abcarian
  • Rick Santorum appears on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Rick Santorum appears on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." (Paul Drinkwater / NBC )

In a preview of Rick Santorum's first appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (see video below), the former Pennsylvania senator, who could be prickly in debates, seemed relaxed and able to joke about some of the topics that cemented his reputation as the most conservative candidate in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Leno prodded Santorum, who wore his trademark sweater vest, about the timing of his endorsement of Mitt Romney, which came at the end of a long email to supporters Monday.

"You endorsed Mitt Romney last night in an email," said Leno. "I thought you would be in bed at 11:00 at night."

Santorum chuckled. "No, no. We have seven kids. So we don’t sleep."

"Now why in the middle of the night?" asked Leno. "It seems kind of tepid, doesn’t it?"

Santorum, who mounted an insurgent campaign that lasted far longer and garnered more wins than many had expected, said he needed time.

"It was a rough-and-tumble campaign. I can’t say it would have been an easy thing to turn around and say, 'Let’s just go forward.' I wanted an opportunity to, sort of, think about it a little bit and the family to think about it."

Santorum said he felt comfortable throwing his support to Romney after meeting with him Friday.

As for the timing of the announcement, he said, "We decided to put it out late at night so it would be, sort of, the first thing people would see in the morning."

When Leno remarked (as have many others) that the endorsement, buried in the 13th paragraph of a 16-paragraph email, was "kind of buried," Santorum said he had "laid out, sort of, the case and just said, you know, 'Here’s sort of what we went through.'"

Leno asked Santorum about one of the weirder moments of the Republican primary campaign – when contraception became a focal point.

"My religious belief is contraception is wrong,  and, therefore, my wife and I don't believe in that," Santorum said. "But I would never impose that on anybody else.  I've never voted to stop contraception. ... There's a lot of things I believe.  I don't believe in smoking, but I'm not -- I wouldn't vote for any bans on smoking."

"I would vote for banning smoking," Leno interjected.

"I wouldn't," Santorum said. "I don't believe that the government's role is to say everything we think is good for you or bad for you, the government has to have a law that says it's good or bad."

Leno, taking the opportunity to goad his guest, replied, "So a gay couple smoking with a contraceptive would be the worst thing."

"Oh, my gosh," said Santorum, laughing. "Heaven forbid."

Original source: Santorum explains late-night Romney endorsement on "Tonight Show"

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