Poll: Republicans Want Santorum for VP

Voters want one of Romney's strongest critics to be on the Republican ticket.

By + More
Santorum_120404_07.jpg
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses supporters during a primary night campaign rally at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Mars, Pennsylvania.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday, Republican voters' top pick for Mitt Romney's running mate is his once former challenger—Rick Santorum. Eighteen percent of those polled picked the former Pennsylvania senator for VP out of a list of 19 potential running mates.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished in a very close second in the poll with 17 percent. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush finished near the top as well.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

After dropping out of the Republican primary race in early April, Santorum has been quiet. He has not officially endorsed Romney, although he has come within inches of telling his supporters to back the former Massachusetts governor.

"It's very clear that he's going to be the Republican nominee, and I'm going to be for the Republican nominee, and we're going to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama," he told CNN's Piers Morgan shortly after he dropped out.

A Santorum-Romney ticket would presumably help the party secure the votes of it's most conservative wing, as Santorum consistently won the votes of those who identified themselves as "strongly conservative" on his way to winning 11 primaries and caucuses.

However, his harsh criticisms of Romney, who he called "uniquely disqualified" and "the worst Republican in the country" to run against President Obama might be hard to reconcile. During the campaign, he assailed Romney's positions on nearly every issue, from healthcare to foreign policy to abortion.

Santorum and Romney plan to meet privately in Santorum's hometown, Pittsburgh, on Friday, although no endorsement is expected in the immediate future.

  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.
  • Read Romney, Endorsed by Bachmann, Slams Obama on Chinese Activist.
  • Read Republicans: Obama the Hype and Blame Candidate.