Politics
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speak at the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool) Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speak at the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)  

Santorum knocks Mitt off his game with question on felons’ voting rights

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Will Rahn
Senior Editor

Rick Santorum briefly knocked Republican front-runner Mitt Romney off his game during Monday night’s Fox News debate when the two sparred over attack ads the former Massachusetts governor’s supporters are running in South Carolina.

The former Pennsylvania senator has criticized the ad, which claims he voted to “let convicted felons vote,” calling it “explicitly false.” Santorum did vote for a bill that would allow felons to vote, but only after they had finished their time in prison and probation.

“Gov. Romney’s super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison, because they said I was allowing felons to vote, and they put a person in a prison jumpsuit,” Santorum said during the debate. Santorum then put the question back on Romney, asking him whether prisoners who have finished time in prison and on probation deserve the right to vote.

Romney tried to stall and began answering a question about the nature of super PACs and why he can’t control what they do. But Santorum quickly cut Romney off.

“I’m looking for an answer to the question,” Santorum said.

The crowd loved it.

“We have plenty time, we’ll get there,” Romney responded, smiling awkwardly. “I’ll do it in the order I want to do.” Complete election coverage

Continuing on the super PAC answer, Romney insisted he had nothing to do with the ads targeting his rivals. And if they were inaccurate, he said, he hoped they would be edited or taken down.

Santorum, again, pressed Romney for an answer to his original question.

“That’s how you got the time,” Santorum said, pointing out that laws forbidding felons from voting are a hot-button issue in the African-American community. The bill he signed and that Romney was criticizing, Santorum continued, was actually named after Martin Luther King Jr.

“I don’t believe people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again,” Romney finally answered. But during Romney’s time as governor, Santorum pointed out, Massachusetts law actually allowed felons on probation to vote.

As he often does when confronted by laws in Massachusetts, Romney defended his inaction and said that the Democrat-dominated legislature he had to deal with would have prevented him from ever passing such a law.

Santorum remained unconvinced. “If I had a super PAC supporting me that said something inaccurate, I would say ‘stop it!’” he said.

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