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Mitt Romney to Jay Leno: Rick Santorum can be my press secretary

OK, Mitt Romney was kidding about that Tuesday during his first appearance of the campaign season on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno. GOP rival Rick Santorum is 'basically a good guy,' Romney said.

By Staff writer / March 28, 2012

In this photo provided by NBC, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks with Jay Leno during his appearance on The Tonight Show in Burbank, Calif., Tuesday. Romney cracked Tuesday night that he'd pick Leno rival David Letterman as his vice president, talked at length about health policy and said he'd be happy to have a rival of his own, Rick Santorum, serve in a Romney administration.

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/AP

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Mitt Romney says he’s ready to have Rick Santorum serve in a Romney administration – as his press secretary.

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The likely Republican nominee was kidding, of course, as he spoke Tuesday night with Jay Leno. It was Mr. Romney’s first appearance of the campaign season on “The Tonight Show.”

Leno tried to draw Romney out on what he’s looking for in a running mate, but the former Massachusetts governor said he didn’t have a list. Leno was incredulous. “It would be presumptuous,” Romney said.

Romney then tried his hand at a little humor, suggesting he’d sideline Leno’s biggest competitor by giving him a new job. “I’ll tell you what, I can do you a favor with this,” Romney said. “I’ll choose David Letterman. He could help us both out.”

Haha. Then Leno threw out a serious list, and requested a one-word response for each.   

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “Indomitable.”

Leno didn’t sound convinced. Romney tried again: “Man of strong will, great strength.”

“A man of girth?” Leno suggested.

Romney didn’t take the bait. “If you attack Chris Christie, you’re going to get more than you bargain for,” he said.

Leno gave up.

“I’ll try for smaller words next time,” Romney joked.  

Next up, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The audience applauded.

Romney: “The American dream.”

Paul Ryan, House Budget chairman: “Creative.”

Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina: “Energetic.”

Donald Trump: “Huge.”

Rick Santorum:  “Press secretary.”

Ouch. As the likely runner-up in the GOP nomination race, former Senator Santorum’s name has come up as a possible running mate for Romney. Just a few days ago, Santorum called Romney the “worst Republican” to run against President Obama (on the health-care issue), then later said “of course” he would consider being Romney’s running mate if asked.

Romney cut him some slack, saying he understands what it’s like to run for office and be “on” all the time.

“Rick Santorum’s a good guy, he’s running a good campaign,” Romney said. “We have some differences in background and differences on some issues, but basically a good guy. I’m happy with him saying he’d like to be part of an administration with me, nothing wrong with that.”

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