Santorum, Gingrich deliver back-to-back punches against Romney
January 16th, 2012
06:52 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum, Gingrich deliver back-to-back punches against Romney

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) – Republican presidential rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich delivered one-two political punches against Mitt Romney on Monday as both men tried to convince a few hundred tea party activists to support their candidacies.

Santorum and Gingrich gave separate, back-to-back speeches at the Myrtle Beach convention sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots and the South Carolina Tea Party. Ron Paul was slated to speak third, but an organizer announced that the Texas congressman had showed up and left because of a scheduling snafu.

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CNN contacted Paul's campaign for an explanation but did not receive a response.

The crowd of tea party activists seemed satisfied with what they heard from the candidates who did speak.

Santorum, traveling with his wife Karen and four of his seven children, praised the activists and wasted little time making his strike.

"We need a conviction conservative - someone who is not just conservative on one issue and not just for one time. But someone who has been a conviction conservative on all of the issues – all of the time," Santorum said.

The former Pennsylvania senator also extolled the virtues of the U.S. Constitution to the crowd that frequently expresses its loyalty to it.

And five days before South Carolina's first-in-the-South presidential primary, Santorum made a clear appeal.

"I would say to the people of South Carolina: the choice is now yours. We've had two primaries [sic] and we've had one-and-a-half decisions," Santorum said, prompting chuckles and applause. The candidate's comments were an apparent reference to the New Hampshire primary and the close race between him and Romney in the Iowa caucuses.

"Tea party people, I hear it all the time: 'We're tired of you folks compromising…We want people who are going to stand for their convictions. We want people who have the courage to go out and do what's right because it's right."

"Well now the challenge is to you," Santorum added. "Are you going to compromise? Are you going to vote for somebody who can 'win?' Or are you going to vote for somebody who's the right person for America?"

As Santorum exited following his speech, Gingrich entered. The former House speaker spent far less time speaking than Santorum. Yet his anti-Romney slams were no less pointed.

"The key question we have to decide on Saturday is whether we're going to nominate, from South Carolina, a Reagan conservative tough enough and strong enough to stand up to [President] Obama and then to stand up to Washington. Or whether we're going to have conservatives split three ways and nominate somebody who had no history in Boston of changing the culture of Massachusetts at all," Gingrich said.

"To do that, we have to unify the tea parties and we have to unify the conservatives in a very straight forward way."

At an earlier event on Monday, Gingrich told a crowd, "Any conservative who votes for anyone but Newt helps elect a moderate as the nominee."

Yet in a question-and-answer exchange with reporters, Gingrich also took aim at Santorum.

"Evangelical voters would like to have a nominee that will win a general election, and somebody who set the all time Pennsylvania record for the size of their defeat has a harder case to make as to why they could be elected," Gingrich told reporters.

"If you vote for Sen. Santorum, in effect you're voting for Gov. Romney to be the nominee because he's not going to beat him. And the only way you can stop Gov. Romney for all practical purposes is to vote for Gingrich. That's just a fact and it's a mathematical fact now."

Romney was not left without a defender at the tea party convention. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – a Romney supporter - kicked off the Monday session with a speech to activists.

Just after, Haley spoke with reporters and praised Romney despite some graphic tea party slams against him.

–CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Also see:

Paul scores sought after endorsement in South Carolina

DeMint: I will not endorse

Romney nabs Florida endorsement

FIRST ON CNN: Huntsman to drop out


Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Dr. Dunk...

    Grasping at straws...Romney's got it wrapped up.

    January 16, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Thomas

    The GOP TRIADE .

    Mitt Romney "Man From Glad"

    January 16, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. jilli

    The two most offensive politicians...santorum and gingrich. Add christie to the mix and you'd have a trifecta!

    January 16, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. dan

    Gingrich is the consummate Washington politician, and he's running aginst Washington? Now, that's as ingenuous if anything could be. And, Santorum is running on "no compromise," which is directly opposite the genius of the American political system. Those who haven't read history are doomed to repeat it. American politics is filled with people like that, who think they, and only they, have a corner on the truth. Neither one is worthy of my vote.

    January 16, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Are southern evangelicals going to support a catholic? I doubt it... Does Ricky have opinions that ever differ from the Pope? I know the he didn't care for how Kennedy handled such, how would he?

    January 16, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. ed fl

    Talk about 2 losers Santorum couldn't even get re elected in his home state and Gingrich has more baggage that a troop transport aircraft. Whenthey starton gingrich's records once again he will more than likely have to drop out and Santorum with his HOLY ROLY Propaganda will not be far behind Newt.Thes two losers will be out of the race real soon.

    January 16, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. tew

    Romney is a snake oil salesman. He personifies all the characterers shown on the show "Greed" He dupes people into buying into his program because as someone pointedly puts it "He appeals the the single most unifying human quality and that's greed" His motto is "vote for me if f you want to be rich and successful like me" Look at me I'm rich, I come from a priviledged background, I attended boarding school, my sons are too exceptional to serve in the military. And you know what... All those ignorant uneducated folks that rely on false sound bites and misinformation generated by the far right media will beleive anything.

    January 16, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't think that any of these guys really would put the country first. Huntsman was the only exception that I saw, and he dropped out because people couldn't see that.

    January 16, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |