Rick Santorum, the former GOP senator from Pennsylvania, announced to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that he’s officially joining the race to be the Republican nomination for POTUS in 2016.
Santorum, who won primaries and caucuses in 11 states in 2012 en route to finishing second to Mitt Romney, is set to formerly unveil his new White House bid today in Cabot, PA, near his childhood home.
But the big news for ABC and its competitors happened when Santorum sat down with its chief anchor Stephanopoulos. Not quite two weeks ago, Stephanopoulos had to apologize for donations he’d made to the Clinton Foundation and recused himself from moderating ABC News’s GOP primary debate in February because he did not disclose those contributions. That apology, in turn, had come hours after Stephanopoulos said he should have told his employer and viewers that he gave what was originally reported to be $50K to the Clinton Foundation, but stopped short of saying he should not have made the donations at all. And though Stephanopoulos has spent about four times as much time working as a journalist than the years he put in as communications director and senior adviser to President Clinton and communications director on his 1992 presidential campaign, news of the contributions, mixed with that personal connection to the Clintons, created a headache for ABC News.
Stephanopoulos already was something of a go-to guy for GOP White House hopefuls early in this election cycle, already having snagged exclusives on candidacy announcements of Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio and landing Mike Huckabee’s first interview after announcing his bid. But, before making his second apology, reps for Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said they would advise their guy not to appear on This Week unless Stephanopoulos recused himself from all 2016 election coverage, and Sen. Rand Paul seconded that notion.