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. Kalowg

    The only thing Santorum risks accomplishing by staying in the race is ensuring the conservative vote continues to be split despite his very disappointing performances. He'll cut off the nose of the GOP in spite of it's face.

    Do the honorable thing. Drop out, go back in for the 2016 race if you like. You're doing harm not only to Gingrich but also the GOP and country. Time to stop being selfish/delusional.

    February 5, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I support Ron Paul's continued run, though I think Santorum has no chance, and is only in it still because of money being channeled his way by the Rmoney Mob.

    February 5, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. freedom is not free

    Why is nobody asking why all Nevada counties havent reported yet? Something obviously shady is going on! I think a new amendment needs to be in place to separate the press and corporations because they dont go hand in hand. The corporations use the media to sway people to what they want not all the facts. This is one big problem that needs to be corrected. These corporations that own these media companies are part of the sweet deals with government and taxpayer funded money.

    February 5, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. james

    Ron atleast has a message to convey...Rick, its become so tiring.

    February 5, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Lewtwo

    The only thing Ron Paul can challenge anyone at is running up loses.

    February 5, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Jenn

    What in the world is there to RUIN?? Both sides of the Isle have run us into no return...Romney, Obama, Grinch, the Bush's AND the Clintons have distroyed our way of life, our freedom and privacy, property, and to go on, took what they have and sold of our country and most of all have sold us OUT..Dr. Who? IF I read it correctly, Ron Paul has the highest IQ than any one of the ones I listed above. He is both schooled in Economics AND Medical Science..
    If you don't know where this country has been and what it was that was fought for, and for whom. (clue: You the people) then.who's the Quack????

    February 5, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Scott

    I love how following the constitution is labeled extremist.

    But not following the constitution, Presidents declaring wars when he doesn't have the power to, indefinite detentions, fewer powers to the States, privacy invasions, and worst of all cover-ups of foreign affair blunders (IE The USA created The Taliban and grew Al'Qaeda to fight the Russians) are now coming back to haunt us.

    BTW, Hussein and Iran and Syria are all in the same category. We do it to ourselves and yet we always blame someone else.

    Ron Paul is not extreme. Ron Paul is the only sane one up there.

    February 5, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. joe smith

    someone must carry the message to the people; msnbc, abc, cbs, cnn do nothing but promote a loser..wonder where their bread is buttered..oh, soros, adelman, and the pacs that promote a coverup from start to finish

    February 5, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. K3Citizen

    The sad part about this republican nomination process is that the world sees that money talks. Romney, who just so happens to be the richest candidate, is only winning because he outspent his enemies by a 5 to 1 margin. It would be a good thing if Romney had actual plans to make things better. He is so rich that he can spend millions of dollars promoting the same failed republican policies that caused the financial collapse. Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney all sell the same product, but Ron Paul has the real solution to the problem, but nobody's bold enough to take that huge step to solvency. Obama isn't as horrible as the GOP commercials say.

    February 5, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Dixie Independent voter

    Gingrich is busy trying to reinvent himself. Romney has no face, no personality, but tons of funds. Paul is the only likable candidate and has intelligence, but is too extreme. Santorum wears bolo ties and is nearly as arrogant as Gingrich. Let me think. Who should I vote for? Obama 2012

    February 5, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. jennynewyear

    No more voting the lesser of two evils for me - ever. I'm not getting sucked into going with media darling/establishment puppets ever again. I am an independent thinker who wants a leader with integrity AND intelligence. A thoughtful person with patience and vision. Someone who will lead for the right reasons, not for personal glory & greed. Gotta go with Ron Paul. It's not even close.

    February 5, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. bookworm

    Dr. Quack??? How rude. I find Dr. Paul to be the only candidate that has integrity, honesty, and the courage to stand by his convictions, despite the mocking, name calling and unfair coverage he has received. The very fact that he is 76 and wants to institute changes that will benefit the country long after he is gone earnsnothing but my respect.

    February 5, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. Malcolm

    You would think that Santorum would eventually get the hint: even among his own conservative Republicans, he's not popular. His views aren't widely shared and are usually derided. His opinions are ignored or reviled. It's time he withdraw, move to Iowa, and bask in the glow of his few hundred admirers. He could form his own paleolithic cult!

    February 5, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Stephen in VA

    The saddest part of all this is that the entertainment is likely to end on August 30, unless they pick Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, or even possibly Christine "I am not a witch" McDonnell as the VP candidate.

    February 5, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Peikoviany

    Two spoilers dividing the conservative vote that is 60% of each Republican primary. Gingrich versus Romney mano-a-mano is the only true test in the GOP, and we'll never see that.

    February 5, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. lps

    I may not agree with R. Santorum on religious matters and I don't Agree with Dr. Paul on some international matters but they should stay as long as they are viable. Newt Gingrich is the candidate that should be sent packing. He is and egotistical nasty man who is making a fool of himself.

    February 5, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Ditty1991

    if you hate ron paul you hate the constitution

    February 5, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  18. fronco123

    Just problematic for these two primitive desperate candidates,they are starting to irritate many supporting hostile crazies.time to get out.

    February 6, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Santorum needs to just go away somewhere and sit in a corner and sob.

    February 6, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  20. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    For all the bloviation concerning these two, I am disappointed that the only truly nationally electable candidate was driven out of the running after New Hampshire – John Huntsman. Oh, well. I guess a reasonable man with positive ideas has no place in today's Republican race.

    February 6, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  21. Jeff

    Liberty is extremist?

    man this country is screwed until the Boomers go away...

    February 6, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  22. Al-NY,NY

    SantorumForVP

    I hope that Romney chooses Santorum as his VP.
    ------------

    do this and he guarentees al oss of epic proportions. Santorum is way too extreme, even for mainstream republicans

    February 6, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    I love the constitution, Ditty1991: I also understand that, like any document, it has been open to interpretation from the beginning. Even Jefferson, the man Paul claims as his inspiration ( and who was not even in the country when the Consitution was written), interpreted the Constitution in a way that suited the political needs of the moment, rather than the original intent. Please quit trying to make Paul out to be the constitutional purist, since his own inspirations cheerfully tacked their views depending on how much political gain could eb made in a situation. Paul would do the same in a heartbeat. The reality of running the show is far different than being in opposition.

    February 6, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Historically, being CEO of a successful business has yielded two of the worst presidents; both of whom were named Bush.

    February 6, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. JiminNM

    Romney won't be able to defeat Obama because the Paul and Santorum supporters will vote for another candidate and not for Romney.

    February 6, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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