According to Arlen Specter’s 2004 campaign manager, Rick Santorum gave Specter more than an endorsement that year — he happily shared his political organization.
“The Santorum political machine in Pennsylvania, from top to bottom, was incredibly helpful to Senator Specter in that campaign at every level, from things large to things small,” says Christopher Nicholas, a veteran GOP consultant and longtime Specter adviser. “I’ve never been in a campaign where another elected official was so helpful.”
“Little things, they helped us with events; big things, they did a TV ad for us,” says Nicholas, who steered Specter’s 2004 and 2010 campaigns. “[Santorum] was there. Those two had each other’s backs. Jewish, Catholic; eastern, western; moderate, conservative. Specter helped Santorum with wings of the party that he needed help with and vice versa.”
Nicholas adds that the Specter-Santorum political alliance goes far beyond 2004. “What people often forget is that the first round of the story was in 1994 when Specter loaned [then-aide Patrick Meehan], who had run his 1992 reelect, to Santorum — to run Santorum’s general-election campaign after the 1994 primary,” he says. “Specter helped at the beginning.”
That early gesture — from an incumbent to a newcomer — was greatly appreciated by Santorum, Nicholas says, and cemented a strong working relationship that continued on Capitol Hill. “There is a long history and political observers and national conservative groups frequently forget that their history started before 2003,” he says. “They always made a good team. You’ve got to remember, this is a partnership that began before Santorum was elected to the Senate.”