Santorum loved Romney in 2008. These days, not so much

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

Ahead of his expected 2012 run, Rick Santorum hasn't been shy in going after potential rival Mitt Romney. The former Pennsylvania senator has led the charge in trashing the health care plan that Romney passed while governor of Massachusetts, suggesting it will ultimately doom his 2012 bid.

"I think it's hard to see a path for him given the 'Obamacare' issue," Santorum told The Hill in January, comparing the plan Romney passed in 2006 with President Obama's controversial health care bill.  "It's just hard for me to see how he gets past that (in a Republican primary)."

And just last week, Santorum told CBN's David Brody that Romney's health care bill was "not right."

Amid all the sniping, it's sometimes easy to forget that Santorum endorsed Romney in 2008, offering him a high-profile endorsement in the midst of the hotly contested GOP primary campaign.

Now, as Scott Conroy writes over at Real Clear Politics, Santorum is trying to explain how he could so heartily support Romney in '08—health care bill and all—but be so strongly opposed to him today. According to Santorum, the answer is simple: His Romney endorsement was merely a political calculation. He didn't want John McCain to win, and the other candidate he liked—Mike Huckabee—didn't seem viable.

"I made, I hate to say it, a calculated political decision that Romney was the stronger horse and had a better chance to win Super Tuesday with the resources he had," Santorum said. "I like him. The time I spent with him, he was a gentleman. He's very sincere."

Except on health care, apparently—or so Santorum now claims as he makes some more personal political calculations.

(Photo of Santorum and Romney in February 2008: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)