Santorum claims support of Sen. Inhofe, who hasn’t endorsed him

Rick Santorum is touting the support of Sen. James Inhofe (R) even though the Oklahoma senator has not endorsed him.

Speaking Wednesday to an Oklahoma radio station, Santorum said Inhofe has praised him as having the best record on issues important to him.

"Jim's the real deal, too, and it's an honor to have his support," Santorum said.

But Inhofe, previously a Rick Perry backer, hasn't endorsed Santorum, and the senator’s communications director disputed Santorum’s assertion that Inhofe had previously said he’d vote for him.

"He has said positive things about Santorum, but he has not endorsed anyone since Rick Perry," Young said in an email.

Young said Inhofe does not plan to endorse another candidate until the Republican Party has a nominee.

The Santorum campaign, however, does not consider the former senator's statement misleading and said he was not suggesting an endorsement from Inhofe.

"I would consider that support, however you look at it," Santorum campaign adviser John Brabender said.

Brabender recalled that at the 2012 Conservative Political Action conference, Inhofe said he probably knows "Rick better than anyone in this audience."

Even as Santorum has skyrocketed to the front of the Republican presidential field in national and key state polls, he's struggled to win over the support of sitting legislators on Capitol Hill. Only a few House Republicans have backed Santorum, while Mitt Romney has the support of almost 80 legislators, according to The Hill’s list.

Oklahoma will hold its Republican primary on March 6, along with 9 other states that will head to the polls for Super Tuesday contests. Santorum has led in recent polls of Oklahoma, though it remains to be seen how his defeat in Tuesday’s Michigan primary will affect his momentum.