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    Pa. Sen. Toomey defends Romney as ‘conservative,’ but withholds endorsement

    Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator isn’t endorsing Mitt Romney, but he’s vouching for the GOP presidential candidate’s conservative principles.

    Republican Pat Toomey says the pushback Romney’s received for passing a health insurance mandate as governor of Massachusetts, and then opposing President Barack Obama’s federal overhaul, is just “baggage.”

    “I think Mitt Romney is a conservative, and if he’s president he’ll govern as a conservative,” Toomey said Friday.

    But Toomey stopped short of endorsing Romney for the GOP nomination for president, and says he has no plans to make an endorsement.

    The first-term senator made his remarks to reporters at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Harrisburg, an annual gathering of conservatives.

    In his formal address to the conference, his speech steered clear of any mention of Romney. Toomey says he’s not concerned the field of Republican presidential candidates remains too crowded, and says the party still has time to unite around a candidate before the nominating convention in August.

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