Santorum plays pundit on general election
January 30th, 2012
01:50 AM ET
3 years ago

Santorum plays pundit on general election

Miami (CNN) - Rick Santorum's campaign announced late Sunday night what its candidate had been hinting at for more than a week: he has canceled all remaining events in Florida and instead will begin a push towards the western primaries and caucuses to be held in early February.

In an email sent out just minutes after Santorum finished participating in a tele-town hall with Florida voters, the campaign announced events in Missouri and Minnesota on Monday, followed by trips to Colorado and Nevada on Tuesday.


The western swing comes after the former U.S. senator spent the last several days at home fundraising and caring for his three-year-old daughter Bella who was hospitalized with pneumonia in both lungs late Saturday night.

Less than an hour after announcing the new schedule, Santorum began his western campaign in earnest by hosting another tele-town hall from his daughter's hospital room –one with voters in Minnesota.

"She is on the mend and really miraculously on the mend," Santorum told listeners on Sunday evening. "She was going through a very, very tough time the last 48 hours and this afternoon she made a really remarkable turn and we're feeling so blessed. I wanted to take this opportunity for anybody who was praying for her just to say thank you and your prayers were answered."

Bella, who was born with the genetic disorder trisomy 18, was not quite out of the woods yet, Santorum said, but she had "turned the corner." Santorum father thanked all those who had prayed for her health.

"I know how she got through it," Santorum said. "The hands of these doctors, but also the prayer that guided those hands and the blessing that came to us as a family and to her."

During the tele-townhall Sunday night, Santorum fielded questions from Republican voters who admitted they weren't too familiar with him.

While recounting his policy positions on some well-trod issues like immigration and gun control, Santorum also provided a sneak peek into his campaign strategy for the rest of the Republican primary and beyond.

As for the general election, Santorum dismissed one caller's contention that the winner in November will be determined by the nation's independent voters.

Instead, he said that the winner will be determined by which candidate can energize the Republican base, motivate independents on things "other than issues," and attract conservative Democrats.

Arguing that the Republican Party often tries too hard to appeal to independents by nominating a moderate candidate, Santorum tried to make the point that the party's real goal should be to win over conservative Democrats.

"Someone whose grandfather was a coal miner and grew up in a steel town in public housing has a much better chance of relating to Reagan Democrats than Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and his record. And someone who - again I respect the fact that both of them made a lot of money - but someone who was an executive at Bain Capital is going to have a much harder time getting those votes and getting that enthusiasm of the Republican base," Santorum said.

While Santorum has been arguing for many months that he's the candidate best positioned to win over so-called Reagan Democrats, he was very specific Sunday night about what he considers his path to victory in a general election.

"Will I lose California by more than Mitt Romney will? Yes, but it doesn't really matter does it," Santorum said.

"Mitt Romney will get maybe 5 or 10% percent more in California and still lose by 15. I'll lose by a lot more but I'll win Ohio and that's the difference.

"I'll make Michigan competitive and maybe win Michigan. I'll certainly win Indiana and I'll win Pennsylvania. If you do that, go ahead and lose New York by more and be able to appeal to the folks that Romney appeals to, but that's where the majority of those types of independents live. Well, we don't need their votes. We need the votes in the swing states with swing voters and that's the voter I can get."

In order to get to the general election, Santorum told Minnesota voters that states with caucuses like theirs will play a crucial role in helping him remain competitive.

"These caucuses are the chance for folks who care about the Republican Party who are going to show up and go to the caucuses and participate as Republicans," Santorum said. "That's why we're spending time in Minnesota and obviously doing these tele-town hall meetings, which we'll be doing more of - because we want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is."

Santorum frequently gripes about the effect that non-Republicans voters had in the New Hampshire primary and, on the call Sunday, he was quite emphatic about his belief "that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries."

"Why?" Santorum asked rhetorically. "Well, because it's the Republican nomination, not the independent nomination or the Democratic nomination. If you're a Democrat and you want to be a Democrat, then vote in the Democratic primary, not the Republican. If you want to vote in the Republican Party, then become one."


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Minnesota • Missouri • Rick Santorum
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. The Middle

    Ask Gingrich to step down before he asks you. It'll do wonders for the party.

    January 30, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Well seems we have two camps R&G fighting almost everywhere tooth and nail and Paul and Santorum going delegate hunting elsewhere.
    Personally I see this boilng down to:-
    1) Romney and Gingrich fighting to the death for the Nomination.
    2) The Paul and Santorum campaigns will go on minimal cost efforts .
    3) At convention time Romney will be cajoled to take on board Santorum to win. And Newt will himself Cajole Paul for his support.
    Result: a Ronmey Pres/Santoum VP ticket or Newt/Paul as Pres/VP.
    Any bet takers?
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    January 30, 2012 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  3. Thomas

    Apparently, Rick Santorum thinks the rules ought to be different for him than for everyone else. Because even if he once fought to keep injured people from seeking more than $250,000 for pain and suffering, that certainly wasn’t enough for the Santorums themselves. His wife wanted $500,000 in damages against her Virginia-based chiropractor for alleged malpractice - although her actual medical costs added up to $18,800.

    January 30, 2012 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that Santorum might win Ohio, but he'll lose other toss up states and his home state (?) of PA. Or does he live in VA now? I can't tell, but I suspect that most people will call his home state PA. I don't know that Santorum can do well enough nationally to win. His message comes across like a straight and narrow path that if you get off you're a bad person. I just don't find him all that appealing. Not that the other ones are appealing.

    January 30, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  5. MikeDeAng

    '"Will I lose California by more than Mitt Romney will? Yes, but it doesn't really matter does it," Santorum said.?'

    No Rick, it really doesn't matter...running a campaign to win the election is wildly overrated....

    January 30, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |