Rick Santorum says he would decline chief of staff role

'It's an honor even to be considered'

By CNN'S KAITLAN COLLINS, SOPHIE TATUM AND JAMIE GANGEL CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
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Rick Santorum said Tuesday that his "answer right now would be no" if President Donald Trump were to offer him the role of White House chief of staff.

(CNN) - Rick Santorum said Tuesday that his "answer right now would be no" if President Donald Trump were to offer him the role of White House chief of staff.

"Look, it's an honor even to be considered," the former Pennsylvania Republican senator and onetime presidential hopeful told Erin Burnett on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "I think it's a great job, and I know that there are a lot of good people out there. The bottom line for me is -- just really like Nick Ayers, I mean -- my family situation really doesn't allow me to do that right now."

"I would again be honored to do it at some point in time maybe, but at this point it just doesn't, it just doesn't fit for me and my family and so, you know, I guess the answer right now would be no," Santorum said.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Santorum has been mentioned by Trump aides as a contender for the position. According to the Post, "Trump aides mentioned Santorum as a contender after he was spotted with the President at Saturday's Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. They noted Santorum's political skills and populist conservative ideology could make him a contender."

Ayers was reported to be the leading candidate to replace John Kelly as Trump's chief of staff when Kelly departs at the end of the month. But Ayers, who has served as Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff for more than a year, announced Sunday that he will not be taking the job.

Ayers turned down the position because he could not agree to terms with the President, a White House official told CNN. Trump pushed Ayers to commit to two years, but he declined and told the President he has young children and wants to move back to his home state of Georgia. He offered to become chief of staff temporarily, but Trump was firm on a two-year commitment, and the talks fell apart.

Santorum has been a CNN political commentator since 2017.

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