Santorum’s backers shift to Romney camp

When Mitt Romney rode into Grand Junction on Tuesday, some of his strongest supporters were some of his most vocal opponents a few short months ago.

Romney last visited Grand Junction in February, hoping to shore up western Colorado against Rick Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator had just won in Iowa and was poised to win the Colorado preference poll on caucus night.

Santorum’s campaign faltered, though, and Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee to take on President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Erstwhile Santorum backer Doug Thompson sported a blue Romney shirt marking him a campaign volunteer as he helped organize the Romney appearance Tuesday.

“It wasn’t the type of thing where I have to hold my nose” to volunteer for the former Massachusetts governor, Thompson said. “We have one focus as a party now, the defeat of Barack Obama.”

Linda Gregory a few months ago traveled as a regular Republican with friends to Montrose to see Santorum and “we liked what we heard,” Gregory said.

Enough that when the Santorum campaign finally faltered, Gregory entered a “mourning period,” she said.

Now the chairwoman of the Mesa County Republican Women, Gregory said she’s all in for Romney and a victory in the presidential race.

“I don’t intend to mourn for Romney at all,” Gregory said.

Santorum’s Colorado victory in the Republican preference poll was all the more significant considering that he had little statewide organization.

Montrose County Commissioner Gary Ellis and his wife, then-Montrose Mayor Kathy Ellis, however, were Santorum organizers who put together the visit there.

Now that Romney appears to be the nominee, there are no hard feelings, only advice, Gary Ellis said.

Romney should follow in Santorum’s footsteps and schedule a Montrose visit, Gary Ellis said.

“I’ve just not seen the kind of energy we had going for Rick when we had him here,” Gary Ellis said. “Hopefully they do something to schedule (a Romney visit),” he said. “It would be in their best interest if they did.”


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