Sen. Santorum concedes after talking ‘about the future’
PITTSBURGH—Sen.RickSantorum, a 12-year veteran of the Senate and the third-ranking Republican, lost his re-election bid on Nov. 7 to Democrat Bob Casey Jr., in a major blow to the Republican Party.
The firebrand conservative who has led the charge in Washington againstabortionandsame-sex“marriage” called Mr. Casey to concede the election slightly before 10 p.m.
“This just was a little too steep of a mountain to climb,” he told a roomful of supporters soon afterwards, with his wife, Karen, and six tearful children by his side. “We will walk away from this job with nothing, nothing but thanks for all of the wonderful people of this state.”
DemocraticGov.EdwardG.Rendell also secured a second term, beating his Republican opponent, former Pittsburgh Steeler and sportscaster Lynn Swann.
Mr. Santorum thanked God for his opportunity to serve and said Mr. Casey is “a fine man” who will do “a fine job” in the Senate. He hushedsupportersinthecrowdwho started booing when he said that.
At his celebration speech from his election headquarters in his hometown of Scranton, Mr. Casey thanked Mr. Santorum for what he said was a gracious phone call.
“He talked about one thing, he talked about the future, and I appreciatethatbecauseAmericanpolitics more than ever [. . . ] has to be as muchabouthealingasitisaboutdebates on issues,” Mr. Casey said, his wife and four daughters at his side.
Polls had long showed Mr. SantorumtrailingMr.Casey,thestatetreasurerandsonofapopularformergovernor, and Democrats were tremendouslyenergizedtosweepthis race as well as the governor’s race.
The Santorum camp had maintaineduntiltheendthatitstop-notch ground operation could turn out enough supporters to send the senator back to Washington. In the end, however,itwasn’tenough.Mr.Casey capitalized on voters’ dissatisfaction with President Bush, Republican leadership and the war in Iraq, telling them that Mr. Santorum is a foot soldier in the president’s army andthatitwaspasttimeforachange.
Mr.Santorumsaidheignoredadvice to only talk “about the pork” he delivered for Pennsylvania and instead focused on national security, telling voters that he was the one to aggressively confront impending threats from North Korea, Iran and elsewhere.
He said he wouldn’t change a word of his campaign.
“What senators and leaders are supposed to do is talk about things ourcountryconfrontsinthefuture,” he said.
Mr. Santorum thanked his volunteers as he looked back on his Senatecareer,tellingthemhehad“stood for” the family and “the most vulnerable, particularly those in the earliest stages of life and at the end of life.”
The48-year-olddidn’tsaywhathis future plans are, except to spend moretimewithhisfamilyandtocontinue to talk about national-security issues.Severalsupportersscreamed “Santorum for President” as he left the room.
Mr. Casey is the son of late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey and is known for his pro-life, anti-guncontrol views.
Atmidday,Mr.SantorumtoldFox Newsthathehad“veryseriousconcerns” about voting-machine problems across the state. At least two counties—LancasterandLebanon, both Republican strongholds — extended their voting by one hour, to 9 p.m.,becauseofaninitialglitchwith the touch-screen voting machines that delayed the start of voting, said Leslie Amoros, spokeswoman for the DOS. But Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes said that most problems stemmed from humanerrorandthatmostproblems wereworkedoutinatimelymanner.
There were several reasons for Mr. Santorum’s struggle here. Through the years, the two-term senator has evoked increasingly visceral reactions from Democrats for hisstridentstatementsandstanceon everything from embryonic stemcell research and abortion — he believes life begins at conception — to proper parenting and the war in Iraq.
Plus,“he’scarryingthebaggageof the Bush administration,” said University of Pennsylvania political scienceprofessorJackNagel.Mr.Bush has just a 36 percent job-approval rating here, according to the latest numbers by SurveyUSA.
Sen. Rick Santorum, with his wife and six children, thanked supporters as he conceded his Senate race to Democrat challenger Bob Casey Jr.