“Having spent most my life in public service, as a soldier, as a Congressman, as a Governor of Pennsylvania, as a White House official, and as a Secretary of Homeland Security, I’ve met accomplished and strong leaders in my life,” Ridge said in a Romney press release. “Mitt Romney is one of them. He would bring to the presidency an extraordinary set of skills.”
“It is an honor to have Governor Ridge’s support. There are few leaders who have such a distinguished record of service to our country,” said Romney. “I am humbled to have his endorsement and welcome Governor Ridge’s counsel.”
Since leaving the Cabinet, Ridge has worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. Most notably, he served from 2010 to 2011 as the top spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Ridge’s pick isn’t exactly a surprise: he’s one of the most prominent Republican moderates (he’s pro-choice, for example). He had previously endorsed Jon Huntsman, the former Utah Governor and former U.S Ambassador to China. Huntsman left the race after a poor showing in New Hampshire and endorsed Romney.
But it shows that Romney is serious about competing in Pa. Yesterday in Harrisburg, his campaign unveiled endorsements from a number of GOP leaders in the state, including four congressmen.
And though his rival Rick Santorum served as a U.S. Senator from Pa. for 12 years, he doesn’t have a majority here. Two recent primary polls showed him with 17 and 14 percent advantages over Romney – not insurmountable for a candidate like Romney with immense financial resources.
Why would Romney risk a play in Pa.? Because if he can beat Santorum here, he can make an rock solid case that he should be the nominee. Plus, Romney can topics that play well here and almost exclusively here – like the former Senator’s endorsement of Arlen Specter in 2004 and his empty Penn Hills home in 2006
Santorum won’t be caught sleeping, either. Tuesday he named Brian Nutt, a veteran GOP operative and Tom Corbett campaign manager, to lead his efforts in Pa.