Santorum Accepts, Romney Declines Invitation to Religious Right Forum Hosted by Gingrich Campaign Co-Chair

To the surprise of nobody, Mitt Romney is ignoring an invitation to participate in the presidential candidate forum at Liberty Counsel’s Florida Awake! conference on Saturday. So far, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted the invitation, while Ron Paul respectfully declined because he will be outside of Florida at the time. Romney has already skipped the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Iowa and two Personhood USA forums, and his decision to skip the Liberty Counsel debate earned him a rebuke from Personhood USA, even though Romney at one point endorsed the group’s extreme anti-choice legislation. The slam from Personhood USA, a cosponsor of the forum, implied that he wouldn’t be a strong opponent of abortion rights:

Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Rick Santorum are confirmed to participate in Florida Awake! Congressman Ron Paul regretfully declined, as he is not scheduled to be campaigning in Florida at that time. The event is already sold out, with over 1800 tickets reserved.

Governor Romney, again expressly invited, has again neglected to notify organizers of his willingness or disinclination to participate.

"Following President Obama's statement celebrating the Roe v. Wade decision -- effectively celebrating the deliberate killing of 54 million innocent American citizens -- Personhood USA recognizes the urgency of ensuring that we know where our candidates stand," stated Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. "We need a president who values life, and will defend the innocent in word and in deed. We certainly don't need a candidate who cares nothing for the Sanctity of Life, nor one who will join President Obama in celebrating the deaths of millions.'

But Romney may have a not terrible reason for skipping the forum led by Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, as Staver is Co-Chair of the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition. Staver endorsed Gingrich earlier this month, calling him the “clear choice for conservatives.”

While Romney’s decision to not participate is nothing new, it is far more bizarre that Santorum would accept the invitation to a forum hosted and moderated by a Gingrich campaign leader.