Nevada runners up, Paul and Santorum vow to continue campaigns
February 5th, 2012
12:10 PM ET
2 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."

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. Patrick

    Let Paul, Santarium, and the rest of the nut jobs stay in the as long as possible (maybe even after the convention). It means less money around for if the Repuglicans ever present a viable Candidate (not likely)

    Obama 2012-Yes we will
    Clinton 2016-2024

    February 6, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. Jason

    Sounds like two winning strategies......to stay in the race while continuing to lose.

    February 6, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. Laverne

    Paul is okay and you notice how Ron Paul mostly concentrate on showing a contrast between he and President and not saying all the hateful, racist things that Santorum and Gingrich resort too. So at least he has some class. I am very disappointment in Santorum pandering to the most extreme and borderline racist people in his party. He lost all credibility as far as I am concerned.

    February 6, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. lucy2

    Paul has a few good ideas here and there, along with some bad ones, but he's too far outside the box to ever get elected.
    Santorum is a terrible joke who needs to just go away.

    February 6, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Cedar Rapids

    "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."

    There is no plus to contrasting with Obama when that stance is wrong Santorum.

    February 6, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. steve

    i thing santorum and paul should drop out-THEN, gingrinch will beat romney and then obama

    February 6, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    I keep seeing coments praising Ron Paul's honesty. Really. Do these people only read his current press releases? Not the ones where he gets called on them and claims that an unknown staffer wrote something and released it under Paul's name. Apparently Paul loves this guy, his unknown staffer, because he has been using that same excuse since his baby boy, Rand Clone, was released from his mold. In the early days Ron had to hastily retract several artcles and a book or two because they were right wing racist bilge water.
    Really, Honest Ron, you had a book published, cashed the checks, discussed it with the press and then, when it became a problem, suddenly remembered that you hadn't written it. Your faithful unknown staffer did it.
    OK Honest Ron, maybe it is time to fire that staffer. Or maybe it is time to own up to your core beliefs.

    February 6, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Erik

    Drop out. As for Santorum, he's a religious zealot who couldn't even win re-election in his home state of Pennsylvania. As for Paul, he's a nut that wouldn't be able to work with Congress as President. It's down to Romney and Gingrich now.

    February 6, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. Tex71

    Paul and Santorum should each run as an independent, ASAP! The bought-and-sold corporate toady vote is clearly going to Romney; the power-mad hypocrite vote lives on Dr. Evil's moon base but will return to Earth when the money runs dry. There is no way either Paul or Santorum will ever be the GOP establishment choice. Santorum will easily corner the market on those voters who want to turn America into a pseudo-Christian version of Iran, while Paul has a monopoly on the survival-of-the-richest Stone Age brutality vote.

    February 6, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. jaywing

    Please. please stay in the race Ricky and Ronnie. The GOP Clown Car of Cardboard Candidates would be sorely diminished without you. Besides, we need the laughs, watching the 4 of you making one groaning, glaring gaffe after another, feeding the late night comics monologues with so much material they can't get them all iin one show. So, did you hear the one about the 4 GOP candidates who walk into a bar on the moon?

    February 6, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. oreo

    Ron Paul is the only sane candidate, including Obama.

    February 6, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
1 2 3