Santorum tough on Romney aboard USS Yorktown
January 17th, 2012
11:01 AM ET
2 years ago

Santorum tough on Romney aboard USS Yorktown

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina (CNN) – At a press conference aboard the USS Yorktown here this morning, Rick Santorum found himself at a loss for words when asked about Mitt Romney's consistent defense of a super PAC ad criticizing Santorum's support of voting rights for former-felons.

"If Mitt Romney believes that an ad that says that I voted to allow felons to vote by showing someone in a prison uniform which gives the clear impression that it means people serving in prison should be able to vote –and he says that is accurate– that is, I, I, I am stunned," Santorum said, visibly upset at Romney's continued defense of the ad. "I am actually stunned."

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After finding his train of thought, Santorum went on to call Romney's defense of the ad a "character issue," and that his support for such a "lie" should disqualify him from being president.

"He's trying to run for president of the United States and there [are] ads out that are absolutely, certifiably false and he says they're okay because it gets him political advantage, this is a huge character issue on Mitt Romney's part," Santorum said. "He needs to step up and do the right thing and quit playing dirty politics. He's playing dirty, dishonest politics when he's standing behind this super PAC."

During an interview on Fox News following last night's debate, Romney claimed that he hadn't seen the super PAC's ad, but that judging by Santorum's onstage description of it, it sounded accurate.

"Rick Santorum says look it's not fair that the super PAC, I guess, – and I haven't seen it – but says that he wants to give voting rights to felons," Romney told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "Well, he wants to give it to people who were former felons. I think they still call people who were in jail, convicted of a felony, they still call them felons. So it is - apparently it is accurate. I haven't seen the ad, but it sounds like it is accurate."

Santorum addressed reporters before a town hall elsewhere on the decommissioned aircraft carrier. The candidate's staff had set up the event with roughly 200 chairs in the audience, but as it got closer to the scheduled start time, it became clear that turnout wouldn't be nearly that high. So the staff removed roughly 100 chairs. By the time Santorum took the stage at 9 a.m. ET, less then half the remaining chairs were full, and probably a quarter of the audience was well under legal voting age.

During the town hall, Santorum was once again pushed on his electability, and perhaps still upset from questions asked at his press conference, the usually mild former-senator was a bit more pointed than usual.

"He's a manager," Santorum said of Romney. "He's not someone who's got bold vision for this country, not someone who has proven to be a bold leader when he was governor of Massachusetts. He was managing. He always talks about his legislature he had to deal with. You think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going to be easy? Let me assure that the level of acrimony that any president's going to walk into in 2013 is going to make Boston look like a walk through Faneuil Hall."

Santorum went on to call Romney "a CEO," adding that this country needs someone who's able to "not just execute, but inspire."

"If the people of South Carolina want someone who's going to be a technocrat and a manager, fine, but that's not going to change this country," Santorum concluded. "That's not going to defeat Barack Obama."


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum • South Carolina
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Don't be shocked by Gov. Romney's evasions and mincing of words, Senator? Most Americans see it the same way that you do. The governer is not being completely honest. Play the excerpt from the debate in a counter ad, provided that Fox News allows you to use the clip. MSNBC has made all debate footage available.

    January 17, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Jariv

    Lying Santorum ! You know what he said, and he is against the Super PACs. You are a good Politician. Something we do not need in the white house. Santorum will never get anything done in the white house because he has a "Its my way or the highway" mentality.

    January 17, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Inrealityhere

    Romneycare disqualifies Mitt.

    January 17, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. durundal

    Fantastic, the theocrat is incapable of reacting or handling something that doesnt fit into his narrow little mold of reality.... whoddathunkit

    how about we not elect a pious person, skip the politicans, and go for a scientist, or heck, even an economist ....I hear they have been studying these problems for hundreds of years, mayhaps they MIGHT JUST HAVE A CLUE. But oh wait, us the arm-chair scholars have something to say, clearly we must all know better...

    January 17, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Santorumhas a point about inspiring people. Mitt does not inspire, but we see who does inspire folks in the GOP: Ron Paul. Ron Paul could not manage a newsletter, but he does inspire the angry and the ill-informed to go out and blindly support him. Frankly, the GOP is screwed. A spineless technocrat who equates corporations with people, and a man who could not even accept responsibiolity for horrible content on newsletters that bore him sname when he was out of Congress. Pathetic.

    January 17, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Bob

    "I'm shocked, shocked to find that dirty politics is going on in here."

    January 17, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. Republicans - "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party

    Romney will forever be untrustworthy because he thinks he is smarter than everyone and van fool the masses.

    I just heard him say he will release " the current year`s tax return" in April. Sorry Mitt, that doesn`t cut it. The suspicion we have is that when you were working @ Bain, and collecting annual income, you were paying an extremely low tax rate by characterizing your earnings in a favorable way that is only open to HEDGE FUND managers. We are sure what you did was LEGAL, but rest assured, that western PA, or WVA, or Indiana, or Missouri voter will find your actions slick & unethical . . . especially when they see your tax rate was lower than theirs even though you were paid millions.

    If the Dems are smart, they won`t let you sweep your tax rate disparity, during your Bain years, under the rug. How can the nation trust you when you`ve stated you what to discuss tax policy in a quiet room away from public scrutiny?

    January 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Roderick

    Rick can't win, he couldn't win reelection for a PA senate seat. How does he thiks he going to win President?? Man, these guy's ego's.

    January 17, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Republicans – "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party
    Romney will forever be untrustworthy because he thinks he is smarter than everyone and van fool the masses.
    ===============================================================================
    Substitute Obama for Romney in this statement and you have a perfect description of Obama's last 3 years.

    January 17, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Perry and Paul (yes, Paul) are ALL one in the same. Oppress middle class and poor and REAP the rewards. None of which should be president.

    January 17, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Larry in Houston

    It's amazing, I've only been here for the last 6 yrs. But I used to live in the "mountain state" for 48 yrs. I know what he used to do, when he was a senator from Pa. He was an earmark kinda guy, among a lot of other things that he done, while he was a pa senator. WoW !! what a Liar ! IF he or "the newter" gets the nomination, that will guarantee a win for Obama.

    Ron Paul 2012

    or

    Obama 2012 :-(

    January 17, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    The only part of this I am ashamed over is that Santorum, who never served in the military, had the chutzpa to hold a press conference aboard one of the most storied vessels in the United States Navy.

    January 17, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |