Politics

Rick Santorum: ‘Paul Ryan Is A Conservative’

WASHINGTON — Presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he disagrees with Wisconsin Rep. [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] on the issue of immigration but says it is wrong for critics to argue the candidate for speaker of the House is not a true conservative.

“I would say that Paul Ryan is a conservative,” Santorum said over lunch Tuesday with a pair of reporters just hours before Ryan announced he was open to serving as speaker. “Paul Ryan has put forth more conservative ideals, ideas on how to reform programs and balance budgets.”

But Santorum added: “I disagree with Paul Ryan on the issue of immigration.”

Ryan — who has repeatedly declined to run to replace outgoing speaker John Boehner — told his colleagues Tuesday evening he had changed his mind and is now open to serving if the conference supports him. The question is whether a group of conservative lawmakers, some of them concerned about Ryan’s support for comprehensive immigration actions and other issues, would back him.

Santorum, who argued he is the only Republican candidate with a consistent stance on the issue of immigration, said critics should consider Ryan’s views on other issues too. (RELATED: Paul Ryan Gets The Endorsement He May Not Want)

“Has Paul Ryan been for a strong national security, strong on morals and family, and has he been for limited for government?” Santorum asked. “The answer is yes. Now, do I find disagreements with Paul Ryan on some issues and some tactics? Yes. Is he as conservative as I would like to see him? No. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a conservative.”

Asked if he’s comfortable with Ryan as speaker, Santorum said he planned to stay out of the race and wouldn’t throw his support behind any particular candidate: “You know what, I would say I have absolutely no opinion on that race…One thing I learned a long time ago, keep your nose out of things that you don’t have any involvement in.”

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