February 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Bowing out of 2016 race, Santorum endorses Rubio

Rick Santorum, United States Senate, Values Voter Summit, Republican Party, Pennsylvania, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has endorsed Marco Rubio. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Bowing out of the 2016 presidential race after abysmal results in Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum on Wednesday endorsed Marco Rubio in his bid for the presidency.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania made his endorsement on Wednesday in an appearance on Fox News, saying he spoke with Rubio the night for about an hour the night before.

Santorum said he’s basing his endorsement on his belief Rubio will help the 74 percent of Americans without a college degree, will combat the breakdown of the American family and understands the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria.

“I don’t endorse lightly,” Santorum said. “As many people know, I’ve been at this for 25 years. That’s unfortunately not an asset in this election cycle to have invested your life in trying to shape the future of our country. And I see a lot — he’s just a tremendously gifted young man, and he is a leader, he’s a born leader, and someone I just feel a lot of confidence in that he is the new generation, and someone who can bring this country together — not just moderates and conservatives, but young and old.”

In an interview on MSNBC, Rubio, who had a strong third-place showing in Iowa and led among the “establishment” candidates, said he’s pleased to receive the endorsement from Santorum because he made a point of campaigning with the American worker in mind.

“I look forward to teaming up,” Rubio said. “He’s going to hopefully be very active in our campaign. We want to use him as much as he’s willing to work for us. We’re excited about it.”

Santorum’s decision to endorse Rubio is particularly striking because the U.S. senator from Florida is supported by Paul Singer, a GOP billionaire hedge-fund manager and philanthropist who supports LGBT rights causes.

In contrast, Santorum has a reputation for being extremely anti-LGBT. While in the U.S. Senate, he was leading proponent of a U.S. constitutional amendment that would banned same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Santorum was among the candidates in the 2016 election who signed a pledge with the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage to oppose same-sex marriage and back a U.S. constitutional amendment against it. Last month, Santorum said if elected president, he would ignore the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Although Rubio didn’t sign the same pledge from the National Organization for Marriage, the candidate opposes same-sex marriage, voted as a U.S. senator against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has pledged to reverse President Obama’s executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and hinted he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn the ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president for policy and political affairs, said Santorum’s of Rubio endorsement demonstrates the two share the shame anti-LGBT outlook.

“Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio share a disturbing worldview, where LGBT people are second-class citizens unworthy of the most fundamental rights and basic protections,” Winterhof said. “Not only do they oppose marriage equality, they believe in a world where it’s acceptable for someone to be fired or evicted from their homes because of who we are or whom we love. That’s fundamentally wrong, and today’s endorsement is only further proof that electing Marco Rubio would be a disaster for LGBT Americans. We can’t allow Marco Rubio to revoke, repeal and overturn the gains made on LGBT equality during President Obama’s two terms in office.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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