Santorum rallies Romney support in Westmoreland County

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Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum denounced President Obama as a politician "drunk with power," as he rallied support today for Mitt Romney in the Republican stronghold of Westmoreland County.

"Just in the last few weeks, I've seen things that have even stunned me...the hubris and the arrogance of power of this president," Mr. Santorum told a crowd of GOP partisans spilling out into the street from a Romney campaign, "victory office," a few blocks from the Westmoreland County Courthouse. It was Mr. Santorum's first Pennsylvania appearance on behalf of his former rival for the GOP nomination.

He accused the administration of overreaching its power in the president's recent directive to ease immigration enforcement for certain young people, and in an announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services this week that it would consider state by state waivers of the work requirement enacted with the welfare reform law championed by Mr. Santorum and signed by President Clinton. The conservative also charged that the president had tried to "bully the Supreme Court," into upholding the administration's health care law

Mr. Santorum had raised questions about the depth of his support for Mr. Romney after he endorsed him in a low-key email in May, but he appeared enthusiastic in backing the soon-to-be nominee in his remarks amid the crowded, overheated GOP office. He urged the crowd to rally the GOP grassroots for an election that he said would be "a tipping point for freedom."

"Pennsylvania is where it's at," he said. "We're the Keystone state. If Pennsylvania goes Republican, Mitt Romney will be the next president of the United States."

Mr. Santorum spoke in a county that was once reliably Democratic but has evolved into an increasingly secure Republican bastion. State Sen. Kim Ward noted that Mr. Santorum's 1994 upset victory for the Senate was a breakthrough for the GOP as he narrowly carried the county.

While that result seemed like an aberration at the time, the county's voting performance in statewide and national elections became increasingly Republican. For years, Democrats managed to retain their strength in more local contests, but in 2011, GOP candidates swept to control of the board of commissioners along with all of the countywide row offices.

Mr. Romney hopes to stoke that GOP momentum Tuesday with an appearance at a rally in nearby Irwin. The event, is at Horizontal Wireline Services, on Colonial Manor Road. The former governor is expected to speak sometime after 1 p.m., before heading to Pittsburgh for a round of fund-raising at the Duquesne Club.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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