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FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Remember Gingrich calling Romney a liar? Michele Bachmann saying Romney's unelectable? Rick Santorum calling Romney "the worst Republican in the country" to run against Obama? They're hoping you don't. And acting like it never happened _ even though most of their words are just clicks away online. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Rivals airbrush anti-Romney words
Game change » The time has come for endorsing their one-time rival.
First Published May 16 2012 11:14 am • Last Updated May 16 2012 04:43 pm

Washington » Remember Newt Gingrich calling Mitt Romney a liar? Michele Bachmann saying Romney’s unelectable? Rick Santorum calling Romney "the worst Republican in the country" to run against Obama?

They’re hoping you don’t. And acting like it never happened (even though most of their words are just clicks away online.)

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One by one — with the exception of holdout Ron Paul — the GOP also-rans have coughed up endorsements of their onetime rival. And as they do, they’re pulling rhetorical backflips to distance themselves from their former harsh assessments of Romney.

Don’t try this at home, folks. It takes a professional politician to pull it off with a straight face.

A sampling of the also-rans’ anti-Romney rhetoric when they were candidates and their obligatory niceness after endorsing Romney.

RICK SANTORUM

The former Pennsylvania senator still doesn’t have trouble curbing his enthusiasm for Romney. He waited a month after dropping out of the race to endorse Romney, then emailed his tepid endorsement in the dead of night. He finally got out the E-word in the 13th paragraph of his 16-paragraph statement.

THEN » "He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." Santorum later said he was referring to Romney’s standing on health care reform.

"If Mitt Romney’s an economic heavyweight, we’re in trouble, because he was 47th out of 50 in job creation in the state of Massachusetts when he was governor. He may have had some success at making money for himself and his partners at Bain Capital, and I give him a lot of credit for doing so, but that’s a very different thing than going out and creating an atmosphere for people to create — that create jobs."


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NOW » "There are many significant areas in which we agree: the need for lower taxes, smaller government and a reduction in out-of-control spending. We certainly agree that abortion is wrong and marriage should be between one man and one woman. I am also comfortable with Gov. Romney on foreign policy matters, and we share the belief that we can never allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. And while I had concerns about Gov. Romney making a case as a candidate about fighting against Obamacare, I have no doubt if elected he will work with a Republican Congress to repeal it and replace it." — Endorsement emailed to Santorum supporters.

NEWT GINGRICH

Gingrich didn’t formally endorse Romney when he dropped out of the race but spoke well of him and later said that was close enough. The guy who promised not to run down his GOP opponents at the start of the race had some withering things to say about Romney during the heat of the campaign. Gingrich, a former House speaker, would rather you forget that now, though: His anti-Romney videos on YouTube, once public, are now private. The man who repeatedly branded Romney a "Massachusetts moderate" now calls him a "solid conservative."

THEN » "Someone who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when he is president."

Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar? "Yes." Questioned about his previous comment.

"Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?" To Romney during a debate.

"Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?"

"We are not going to beat Barack Obama with some guy who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts, owns shares of Goldman Sachs while it forecloses on Florida and is himself a stockholder in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while he tries to think the rest of us are too stupid to put the dots together and understand what this is all about."

"I think that a bold Reagan conservative with a very strong economic plan is a lot more likely to succeed in that campaign than a relatively timid Massachusetts moderate who even The Wall Street Journal said had an economic plan so timid it resembled Obama."

NOW » "I’m going to campaign for him, I favor him over Obama. I went through, like, seven different issues where I favor him. I’ll do everything I can to help elect Romney. ... As far as I’m concerned, I’ve endorsed him."

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