When fourth or fifth is better than third
August 15th, 2011
01:17 PM ET
8 years ago

When fourth or fifth is better than third

(CNN) - If third place finisher Tim Pawlenty is out, why are Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, the fourth and fifth place finishers at the GOP presidential straw poll Saturday in Ames, Iowa still in the race for the White House?

One answer: Size matters.

Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, came into the crucial straw poll with a large, experienced and expensive campaign staff, while Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, and Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and radio talk show host, are running for the Republican presidential nomination on shoestring budgets.

In an interview with this reporter Saturday night, minutes after the results of the straw poll were announced, Santorum described his campaign as "'The Little Engine that Could' campaign. No matter what happens, we're just going to keep plugging away."

And he compared himself to Pawlenty, who finished just over 600 votes ahead of Santorum: "We were in range of three. I mean I felt like here's a guy who spent a million bucks in this and we spent a fraction of that and here we are within a few hundred votes of him and I feel very, very good about that. I feel we're positioned exactly were we want to be."

Cain was equally tough on Pawlenty's effort, telling CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Pawlenty "made a big investment, and he doubled down as we call it, and it didn't pay off."

"We didn't put a million dollars into the straw poll," added Cain. "We spent zero on the TV and we spent zero on the radio, and so this campaign is encouraged and our momentum continues to grow."

GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos says expectations are one reason Pawlenty is gone and Santorum and Cain are still in the hunt for the White House.

"Pawlenty's problem is that he lost, not because he wasn't known but because he was. He had money, time, organization and exposure. If he couldn't make the case with all of that, how could he going forward?"

Castellanos, who was a top media adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and to Romney's 2008 bid for the GOP presidential nomination but is not taking sides in this battle for the Republican nomination, adds that Pawlenty "traveled farther and faster than Cain or Santorum, but he reached the end of his road."

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN.

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Iowa • Rick Santorum • Tim Scott
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Rick Santorum couldn't get elected dog catcher. He needs to quite wasting money and end his campaign. For someone who cries about excesive spendy, he surely doesn't practice what he preaches. Oh wait. He's a member of the "Do as we say, not as we do" party. Nevermind.

    August 15, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. skyjmpr

    Let's see....

    "I'm a loser, BUT I CAME CLOSE to being less of a loser than I am, therefore I march on..."

    Smell the coffee guys. You have no money and you have no prospects to GET money. Unfortunately, big politics means big bucks, so taking ANY message out of a 'straw poll' that you should continue on is being dishonest with yourself at minimum, but more likely delusional.

    August 15, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. patNY

    The rent is too damn high!

    August 15, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. malcolm in St Louis

    why does anybody care about what 16,000 Iowan nuts think. It is hardly representative of anything. Bachmann wins with around 5,000 votes and she is now seen as a frontrunner, Ron Paul is few votes behind and he is ignored. Pawlenty is 3rd and drops out. The rest have 2-3% each and they still think they are contenders.

    In other words the whole Iowa event was a waste of hot air. Unless you are a pundit and have nothing better to do.

    August 15, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Eric in Manhattan

    Santorum is still as delusional after the straw vote as he was before it. Can't someone get this man a job?

    August 15, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. rankno

    Because they are arrogant and playing on other people's money. Neither have a chance in hell of ever being elected president but as long as people continue to give them money and boost their ego, they are too stupid to grasp reality.

    August 15, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. FM

    Let them hang on over there if they still believe Monday is longer than Sunday!

    August 15, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Gov. Pawlenty didn't strike me as anything that I could put a finger on and name. He was just another name that was in the race. He let his moment to shine on ObomneyCare escape. He came across as someone lacking convictions on everything. He somone who feared, instead of to be feared. I also think T-Paw was perceived as cutting and running on MN budget woes.

    August 15, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Plus, Santorum has all that very special name recognition...

    August 15, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. vet in texas

    The party is over for both of these guys.

    I saw a car drive by me in traffic over the weekend and it had a Cain 2012 bumpersticker, the driver was looking in amazement at me at why I was laughing so hard shaking my head at the same time.

    non-conservatives, please take some time out of your busy commutes to literally laugh heartingly at any car that passes by with a Cain, Santorum, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Bachmann, Palin, Perry , Romney, Paul, and Hunstman ticker........the drivers will scratch their heads wondering what's so funny.

    August 15, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Scott

    I would like for those of us who support President Obama, to not be riled by those wishing to insult our intelligence by speaking against the efforts of our president. It does us no good to get into the mud with pigs. They're already dirty and they like it there. You're the only one that stands to "get dirty".

    Yes. The polls will say that he's losing favor, but when was the last time you were counted in a poll?

    Please let your vote do your speaking. Let there be a strange silence until voting day when our movement will crack the skies as we pour into the polls to secure his second term. Don't pay attention to the negative rhetoric. Of course they're angry. He's not continuing the idiocy that THEY benefit from. Keep pressing toward the mark, and don't be distracted or provoked.

    August 15, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Using republican Hoover economics, losing is better than winning.

    August 15, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. SecedingfromTexas

    Are you kidding? I don't know what Santorum is doing, but I would be willing to bet that Herman Cain has never had so
    much fun in his life. Travelling the country, being greeted by small, but enthusiastic crowds, running his own show,
    eating great food, "preaching to the choir", singing. I don't think he cares if he wins or not, he just doesn't want the
    party to end. "Life is a cabaret, old chum".

    August 15, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. ObamaSham

    Go Herman Cain! You are on FIRE!

    August 15, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Bessy

    The lightbulb hasn't gone on for them yet. It will ! They never had a chance, so let them dream on for awhile. For some people it takes awhile to face reality. LOL

    August 15, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. MadinCT

    With this latest turn of events, the Republican party is continuing its shift to the extreme, putrid right of the political spectrum: a small cross section of the American political landscape that devalues education, glorifies ignorance, views quitting as a virtue and takes pride in blatant hypocrisy. That is the only explanation for their revelry and excitement with the "D" student, "job-creating" TX governor/preacher and a bona-fide ding-a-ling sporting a degree from that unaccredited, "intellectual powerhouse" with a storied 6-year pedigree, F.O. Coburn Law, aka, Cracker-Jack U!

    How could two dunces who just a few years ago would have been roundly dismissed by their GOP counterparts suddenly become mainstream in GOP politics? Well, this is what happens when a political party launches an all-out sustained assault on anything related to education. The modern-day Republican party has now seen the fruits of their calculated strategy to maintain power through ignorance by attacking, undermining or subverting things from Head Start to Pell Grants; from the Department of Education to school lunches; from the science of stem cells to the science of climate change. Anyone else (Republican or Democrat) who is more educated, who advocates the vital importance of these things is viewed as "elite" and subject to ridicule. Then, when they have created a significant underclass of ignoramuses that hew to their ideology but who are incapable of higher order thinking or basic computation skills requiring companies to seek talent elsewhere or send jobs offshore to smarter, cheaper labor they cry foul.

    That is the thinking and warped mentality that has brought us the twin cancers of Perry and Bachmann and the scourge of the modern-day Republican Tea Party. If left unchecked, they will no no doubt take America back–back to a time when all decisions were made through the Church's prism; when the earth's roundness or polarity or scientific facts were dismissed by clergy; smart "elites", submissive women and minorities knew (and stayed in) their place; and education was optional. We all know how that turned out but, alas, a generation of fools who have failed to consult history (let alone read it) embark on a repeat performance with hopes of a different outcome!

    August 15, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. ObamaSham

    You gotta love Herman Cain. If you haven't listened to him yet, you need to. This guy is ON FIRE!!!!

    August 15, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. gt

    these two are toast.. waste of time and money..

    August 15, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. carrotroot

    It doesn't matter, I will not be voting for ANY Republican this election cycle.

    August 15, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. DAK

    They (the GOP contenders) should do America a favor and drop out of the race. None of them are fit to run this country unless we are talking about running it into the ground, a job any of them would be great at. However, I would hope every citizen of this country would want America to be BETTER in 2013 rather than WORSE and the only way to make this country better is to NOT elect any of these clowns to the presidency. Most of them shouldn't be allowed in the same room when adults are trying to solve problems as they just take up valuable air.

    August 15, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pawlenty's problem is that he lost, not because he wasn't known but because he was.
    Rest assured, the same fate awaits the remaining contestants for the SAME reason.
    Obama 2012.

    August 15, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You know folks keep commenting on how 'smart' Perry was to wait until he was asked to the 'prom' to jump in. He is now strutting around like the belle of the ball. I can't help but think that he was in fact smart to have waited this long to join the others for his fake bravado, and job-producing 'knowledge' would've only taken him but so far. He has extended his shelf life by coming late to the party, yet like Pawlenty I don't see him getting crowned Prom king either.
    Obama 2012

    August 15, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. wishing

    Let's be honest, half of these people are actually running for Vice President. We all know that individually, these folks have a snowball's change in hades of getting elected alone. Just as they have in Congress (unfortunately for the country) they will have to split the ticket between the 'reasonable' Republicans and a Tea Party candidate. So, start thinking in those terms. If you don't think they thinking in those terms already, you don't know.

    Something like that. I can't see Perry taking a back seat to anyone, regardless of potential outcome.

    August 15, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. bb

    Pawlenty never did have anything presidential. Neither does Santorum or Cain. They'd be doing themselves a favor by dropping out. Huntsman's running in the wrong party – he doesn't have a chance. It's going to come down to a cage fight of sorts between Bachmann and Perry for the far right. It's going to get a whole lot uglier before they just shut up and all go away.

    August 15, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. truthman

    I consider myself a Teabagger. Heck, I suppose Herman would, too. I like him a lot. How's that for being racist?

    August 15, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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