Nevada runners up, Paul and Santorum vow to continue campaigns
February 5th, 2012
12:10 PM ET
3 years ago

Nevada runners up, Paul and Santorum vow to continue campaigns

(CNN) – The two trailing contenders in the recent Florida primary and Nevada caucuses said Sunday they would stay in the GOP presidential race and criticized front-runner Mitt Romney and main challenger Newt Gingrich as flawed candidates.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who finished fourth in Nevada on Saturday, lambasted Romney as a "uni-dimensional candidate." Both Santorum and third-place finisher Ron Paul justified their continued candidacies because Romney, in Paul's words, "doesn't satisfy a lot of people."

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Santorum argued that Romney's candidacy would be undermined if the economy continued to improve. Job figures released Friday showed unemployment dropping to 8.3%, its lowest level since 2009.

"I mean, all he talks about is being the CEO, being the CEO, being the businessman," Santorum said of Romney on "Fox News Sunday." "First of all, I'm not sure that's the greatest qualifications for being president of the United States. But if it is, the qualification (by Romney) is that 'I'm someone who can run the economy, even though I don't believe the president runs the economy.' "

The presidency, Santorum said, is "not necessarily a CEO type of position, and secondly, Gov. Romney - even more than Speaker Gingrich - doesn't create the contrast that we need to beat (President) Barack Obama."

In particular, Santorum repeated his campaign assertion that both Romney and Gingrich are too similar to the president on major issues such as health care reform, climate change and Wall Street bailouts, while his record is the only one representing true conservative principles that contrast with Obama's policies and record.

Paul, the Texas congressman, is looking to caucus states such as Nevada to amass the delegates he needs to be a player at the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida in August. He said Sunday that he hopes to win the GOP nomination but remains realistic.

"Well, the first thing you want to achieve is get as many votes as you can and get as many delegates and set your target high," Paul said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "And, of course, you set it for victory, but you have to live within the real world."

As of Sunday morning, Romney had 48% of the Nevada count to 23% for Gingrich, 18% for Paul and 11% for Santorum. In 2008, Paul finished second to Romney in the Nevada caucuses with 14% support.

"If you go from second to third, there would be disappointment, but also on the positive side, we will get a bloc of votes. We will still get some delegates," Paul noted. "And we still will pursue, you know, our plan to go into the caucus states. And we'll have to wait and see how things go."

Paul also got in a dig at Romney when asked if he might be able to bring around the front-runner to some of his libertarian positions on key issues as the nomination process proceeds.

"Yeah, I think Mitt could change his mind. He's changed his mind in the past," Paul said, referring to Romney's shift to more conservative stances since his years as Massachusetts governor. "If he hears from our young people and voters and we continue this, yeah, he's going to change his mind, if there's a political benefit to it."

However, Paul said he was not concerned about the harsh negative turn of the campaign, particularly between Romney and Gingrich, as well as ads produced by his own campaign. Some Republicans fear the bitter attacks could harm the eventual candidate for the general election race against President Barack Obama later this year.

"I don't worry about that," Paul said on the ABC program. "I worry about myself. I worry about the message. I worry about the country. I worry about the wars going on. I worry about the economy in the real sense of what it's like to have runaway inflation. Those are things that I worry about, and that's what energizes my supporters, and that's why we get these thousands of people coming out."

The next events on the campaign trail are Tuesday, with caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, as well as a non-binding primary in Missouri. Asked if it would be a make-or-break day for his campaign, Santorum said on Fox: "Oh no, not at all."

"I think we're going to show improvement," Santorum said, noting the five contests so far in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada were the first five in 2008 also, when both Romney and Paul also waged campaigns.

Romney and Paul "had an advantage because they had spent a lot of time and money not just in this year's campaign but for the last four years in working on those states," Santorum said.

"Now we're getting to the states where people don't have the natural advantage, don't have the time commitment, the staff commitment to really build an organization like they did in these first five," Santorum continued. "I think we're going to do very well here in Minnesota. I think we're going to do very well in Colorado and we've got a one-on-one matchup against Mitt Romney in Missouri" because fellow conservative Gingrich failed to get his name on the ballot there.

Also see:

Paul defends Romney on 'poor' comment

Gingrich will try to reset strategy

Romney backer calls on Gingrich to drop out

Romney faults stimulus at plant that received $2.3 million


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Don’t worry they may stay in the race till 2016

    February 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. enkephalin07

    Ron Paul is starting to look like the only guy who can challenge Obama. Both Romney and Gingrich have betrayed themselves with their choice of words. Paul won't do that because he has nothing to hide; he's shown consistent honestly and conviction in his message.

    If he actually becomes president it'll probably be an embattled administration, and he won't be able to do much more than the act of campaigning is doing, and that's to keep his message in the public dialog and cultivate acceptance for it. It's not so radical to roll back restrictions on liberties and downsize the federal government until it's no longer attractive for big money interests to hijack the country with.

    February 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Namejkane fl

    I think all the teapublican morons pres. Canadates should drop out and start their own country on the moon, morons all.

    February 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. MikeH

    Rick Santorum = Dead mouse on country kitchen floor.

    Ron Paul = ... Well I actually respect Paul for his mostly honest campaign, but many of his ideas are far too extremist.

    However, carry on you two, this is most entertaining

    February 5, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. WhereIsPalin

    Dr Quack will take his delegates into the convention and continue to ruin the republican party.

    February 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. josh

    If Santorum isn't the Republican candidate, there will not be a Republican in the White House. As of right now the average voter is too ignorant of this country's past to vote for someone who would restore conservative values, its just not what we want as a socially retarded people. Like a moth drawn to a flame, this country is drawn to its own demise. Yes I know, the truth stings bad, doesn't it.

    February 5, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. Santa Claus + Tom Paine

    Ron Paul would destroy the country by making it vulnerable to attack ("no preemptive strikes"), Mitt Romney is a typical "used car salesman" politician who would do anything to get elected (he will show his true colors when he passes another Assault Weapons Ban; he is pro-gun control), and Rick Santorum is far too conservative to appeal to mainstream America.

    Yes, that leaves Newt Gingrich as the best option. He is flawed, disorganized, and has had plenty of past PERSONAL troubles, but he will not destroy the country outright, threaten the Second Amendment, or allow President Obama to win in a landslide. Gingrich is intelligent and experienced and, even if he loses the general election, he is the best symbolic candidate for the Republican Party. It will show that the Republican electorate still has some enduring sense of character and credibility.

    February 5, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. ddb880

    Delusion must be fun for these guys.

    February 5, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. monkeyman

    I'm someone who can run the economy, even though I don't believe the president runs the economy.' " Santorum)...but yet the Republicans blame the president for his 'failed economic policies". Seems to me you can't have it both ways.

    February 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Voters Are Stupid

    Everyone calls Ron Paul "extreme." Why? Because he actually has original ideas? He's literally the most grounded out of all of them. God people are too stupid to even vote anymore.

    February 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    And why shouldn't they. As long as religious zealots and anti-government extremists and racists are willing to give these two clowns millions of dollars, why shouldn't they continue their campaigns? They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. At worst, they will be able to quadruple their speaking fees and maybe even host a show on FOX. Neither of them seems to care that they are actually hurting their own political party. It's really all about self-interest and ego at this point.

    February 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Nothing new here

    Ron Paul is the best candidate, and the only candidate that can garnish support from the left, right and moderates.
    And NO, I am not a Paul-bot, thank you.
    I just think that the guy is the only GOP candidate that is honest, and is different from the rest of the bought-and-sold pack. Ron Paul has been the only serious candidate that has refrained from the negative ads and personal attacks, and has spent more time actually talking about his ideas and a plan of action.
    I think Ron Paul is the one candidate that would actually make an effort to practice what he speaks.

    February 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. SantorumForVP

    I hope that Romney chooses Santorum as his VP.

    February 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Peikoviany

    America needs preferential balloting. This system would allow Santorum and Paul to raise whatever one-note issues they like, but on primary day their last-place finish would scatter their votes to Gingrich more than to Romney, and GOP voters that wanted a conservative winner would not get a moderate winner and a three-way split of the conservative vote. Santorum and Paul have no chance of winning themselves and are merely tampering with the outcome for personal gain (self promotion into jobs in the Romney administration they helped to create).

    February 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. liberal-ha just kidding

    I have the chance to travel around our country and I am amazed at how much poverty and anger I see from people. Combine that with tea party and occupy wall street movements and then add a mix of Vets who have returned home to no jobs and widespread political corruption and it is easy to see where this is going. For the sake of peace, I hope Paul gets elected. If he doesnt, I fear this country will have violence not seen since the civil war or American Revolution.

    February 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. koga001

    I get so frustrated when i see Dr. Pauls ideals called extremeist. They are written into the Constitution of the United States and our Bill of Rights! Why is that extreme? Why is that so scary for so many people? Those documents are the core of our country, and even though we have moved away from them as a nation (and should move back as quickly as possible) they are still our core values. Wake Up America.

    Ron Paul 2012

    February 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. USA

    Go MITTENS! Yea!

    February 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. TheTraveler

    "Ron Paul is starting to look like the only guy who can challenge Obama."

    Sure, if you ignore the national polls that show just the opposite. Every poll has Obama with a comfortable lead over Paul at this time. But don't take my post for it, check out realclearpolitics.com and their compilation of national polls. Unless things change radically for the good doctor, like winning the GOP nomination or changing to a run as an Independent, he hasn't a snowballs chance in hades of defeating Obama.

    February 5, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. George

    Santorum will be out Wednesday.

    February 5, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. W007

    Ron Paul continues to impress me and he shows he has a class. I think if the MSM is not bias toward him he would be much more successive.

    February 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. thecityofjoy

    Bad news for the Grinch. Now Paul and Santorum will do enough damage for Mitt to win the Republican nomination. Look to Santorum to get VP post for his help . And look to Paul to get back to TX . Looks like Christmas will be too late for the Grinch to make his move (hint: the election is in November!)
    USA :Economy is improving
    GOP : Lies, all lies I tell you !

    February 5, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. Steve Corbin

    where are the final vote totals. does it take the GOP this long to rig votes?

    February 5, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Steve Corbin

    You would think cnn would be jumping on this news. How long does it take to count votes?

    February 5, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. ithinkthat

    Good for Ron Paul. Hang in there.

    February 5, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Dawn Tarr

    I seriously do not understand why Ron Paul continues to waste the money of his donors. He is so fringe that he will never get elected and those that do not understand that are as stubborn and near sighted as he is. It is such a waste. It makes for good political fodder for the Democrats to use.......his kookie ideas of dismantling the government and just allowing it to regulate himself.......oh yeah that's gonna work.

    February 5, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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