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CQ Roll Call: Santorum Dismisses Lack Of Endorsements, Cuccinelli Changes Course

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Over the weekend presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum told reporters that he wasn't concerned by his lack of endorsements from members of Congress, because they have a record-low approval rating among voters at the moment anyway. David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of the CQ Roll Call daily briefing, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about Santorum's comments and what else to expect in tomorrow's Iowa caucuses.

Here are some highlights: 

Whether candidates should care about congressional endorsements: "They should care less than they used to have to care, in the old days," Hawkings says. Senator Santorum is correct that with an approval rating of 8 percent in some polls, a member of Congress's endorsement isn't all that useful." 

On Santorum's contention that he's a Washington 'outsider': "Up until a few years ago when he lost by 18 percentage points, he was very much a part of the Washington inside game, he wanted to be a leader in the Republican Senate caucus," Hawkings says. "That didn't work out for him and now he's very much changed his stripes."

Santorum's reputation when he was in Congress: "He to be honest was not very popular, especially among Democrats," Hawkings says. "They thought he was partisan, thought he was hot headed. He has very much changed stripes now. I think he's coming across on the campaign trail as very cool, collected and consistent."

On why Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reversed his statement calling for changes to Virginia's ballot laws to allow for Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry to be on the ballot: "One clear reason could be that the attorney general does not want to make mad the guy who by the time of the Virginia primary could have this thing wrapped up," Hawkings says. "One of the first rules of politics is don't make fellow people in our own party mad unless you absolutely have to. Mitt Romney seems to have scored a tactical victory by  having the organization to get on the Virginia ballot, and Cuccinelli, if he ever wants a future in Romney's world if Romney becomes president, doesn't want to make him mad."

On candidates' arguments that the Virginia qualification rules are too strict: "I don't quite understand the argument that Newt and the others are raising, which is they say that it is somehow unfair that Virginia has such a high threshold of signatures and the people have to collect the signatures are all registered voters in Virginia," Hawkings says. 

"As Cuccinelli said when he reversed course yesterday, he's concluded that it's not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game," Hawkings adds.


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