Santorum on Huntsman endorsing Romney: 'Moderates are backing moderates'

Rick Santorum wasn't surprised at the news that Jon Huntsman plans to endorse Mitt Romney for president.

Speaking at a diner in South Carolina, Santorum said that both Huntsman and Romney were competing for the centrist Republican vote and Romney simply came out on top.

"Moderates are backing moderates, that’s the bottom line," Santorum said Monday, according to ABC News. "Gov. Huntsman ran as a moderate trying to compete with Gov. Romney for the establishment moderate vote. Gov. Romney had a leg up on him as being a solid moderate that the establishment could get behind, and Gov. Huntsman wasn’t able to crack through that."

Santorum's comments reflect a problem that Huntsman's campaign struggled with: He was regularly seen as too liberal to win over a sufficient majority of the Republican primary vote. He also failed to differentiate himself from Romney in the eyes of a fair number of voters.

Santorum, meanwhile, has been determined to angle himself toward the farther right side of the Republican field as the one "true conservative." He's strayed away from appearing as a moderate on a number of issues and won virtually only social conservative endorsements.

On Sunday, Huntsman's campaign announced that the governor would drop out of the presidential race and endorse Mitt Romney for president on Monday at 11 a.m.