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From ‘a great Wisconsinite’ to ‘some other Wisconsinite’: Santorum’s tone on Paul Ryan shifts after Romney endorsement

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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Rick Santorum greets supporters at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Kick-Off (Jae C. Hong/AP)

PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- On the first leg of his campaign trip to Wisconsin this week, Rick Santorum spoke approvingly and often of Rep. Paul Ryan, a favorite son among Badger State Republicans. But ever since Ryan endorsed Mitt Romney, the name doesn't come up nearly as much on Santorum's spring campaign tour.

At a speech here Saturday to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Santorum even found a way to highlight Ryan's success as House Budget Chairman without saying his name at all.

"Take the tax code, simplify it," Santorum told the audience while describing his own tax plan. "We've got the simplest--it's two rates. Some other Wisconsinite also went with a two rate tax plan."

That "other Wisconsinite," of course, is Ryan, who spoke at the same event earlier that morning, and whose budget blueprint passed the House this week.

Santorum's reference to Ryan came after a week of invoking Ryan's name throughout the state. Santorum even made a stop in Jainesville--Ryan's hometown--where he spent the better part of a half hour praising the young congressman, calling him a "great Wisconsinite."

But Friday, after Ryan had endorsed Romney, Santorum's first speech of the day included nary a mention of the Ryan name. Reporters traveling with the former Pennsylvania senator noticed the change, and questioned him after his remarks.

"I'll mention him in the next one, just to make sure," Santorum said, laughing at the reporters' questions. "I support his budget, he's done a great job with it." He declined to comment on the endorsement itself.

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But at his next speech, at a sand volleyball arena in Chippewa Falls, Santorum again didn't mention Ryan. Only at his final stop Friday night, at a bowling alley in Weston, did he passingly refer to him.

"You've been giving us great leaders here at the state level with Scott Walker, and the federal level with Paul Ryan," Santorum told a couple hundred supporters before bowling for an hour Friday night. "Now give us a chance to have a conservative in the White House."

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