iOS app Android app More

Rick Santorum To Mitt Romney: Tell Your Super PAC To Take Down Ad Attacking Me

First Posted: 01/15/2012 9:22 am Updated: 01/15/2012 11:47 am

WASHINGTON -- Rick Santorum is calling on Mitt Romney to urge an independent group supporting his presidential bid to take down a TV ad attacking him, saying if he can't persuade it to do so, he might not be fit to be president.

The new ad by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future hits Santorum on supporting earmarks, backing the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," raising the debt ceiling five times and voting to "let convicted felons vote." The ad will be broadcast in South Carolina and Florida.

While Santorum has addressed many of these topics in his town hall meetings and media appearances, he took particular issue with the felon issue during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"That is an absolute lie," Santorum said of the ad's claim. "I voted for a provision that that said if a felon serves his term, serves his parole and probation, and then after that period time he can be restored his voting rights, which is exactly the law that's here in South Carolina. But we had a federal law at the federal level. ... Gov. Romney should be saying to his PAC say take that ad down, it's false. It gives the impression that I want people to be voting from jail."

The 2002 bill failed in a 31-63 vote. Santorum was one of just three Republicans to support the legislation, along with then-Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

As Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) explained at the time, the legislation "simply restores the right to vote to those individuals who have completely served their sentences, including probation and parole." It would have applied to all federal elections in every state.

So while the Restore Our Future ad is not technically inaccurate, it may leave voters with the impression that Santorum fears -- that felons would be able to vote from jail -- which is likely part of the reason the super PAC included it.

Romney has no control over Restore Our Future. Legally, super PACs cannot coordinate with any of the candidates. So even if Romney issues a public call for the group to do something, it does not have to listen to him. Santorum nevertheless said that if Romney -- or any other candidate -- is unable to persuade a super PAC backing him to take down an inaccurate ad, he may not be fit to be president.

When "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Santorum what would happen if the super PAC ignores Romney, Santorum replied, "Obviously Gov. Romney doesn't have the persuasion. If he can't persuade his own people to do something, how is he going to persuade the American people and Democrats?"

So far, candidates and super PACs have spent a record $11.3 million in South Carolina on TV ads.

Also on HuffPost:

FOLLOW HUFFPOST POLITICS
Subscribe to the HuffPost Hill newsletter!