Gibbs: Santorum has ‘legitimate chance’ at nomination
February 26th, 2012
11:04 AM ET
3 years ago

Gibbs: Santorum has ‘legitimate chance’ at nomination

(CNN) – The senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign said Sunday that Rick Santorum has a “legitimate chance” to become the Republican nominee, describing him as a candidate with blue-collar appeal who offers something “different” than the other GOP frontrunner.

“He's clearly somebody who has a very different economic background than Mitt Romney,” Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary who now advises the president's campaign, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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Obama’s campaign has showed growing signs in recent weeks that they consider Santorum to be a mounting threat in the Republican nominating process.

While Gibbs said Sunday that Santorum brings “a little bit different challenge” to the race, he argued the former Pennsylvania senator lines up with Romney on some key issues.

“If you look at their economic plans and look at the economic plan that Mitt Romney put out this week, in many ways they are very much similar in the sense that they have tax cut plans that would add trillions and trillions to our debts and deficits,” Gibbs told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Predicting Tuesday’s contests in Michigan and Arizona will not be a “clarifying event,” Gibbs said he expects the primary to go on for “weeks and weeks.”

On Sunday, Gibbs also hit back against criticism from Newt Gingrich over the president’s recent apology to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

“I'm not sure many people are looking to Newt Gingrich for foreign policy advice,” Gibbs told the CNN program. “If there's a problem on the lunar colony, he'll be among the first we call.”

The former House speaker was the first Republican White House hopeful to blast the president for apologizing after Qurans containing extremist language were burned by NATO soldiers last week.

Fury over the burning sparked mass protests, and two U.S. soldiers were gunned down at a base in eastern Afghanistan by a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform. Several more have been injured.

American officials, including Obama, have apologized, saying the burning of the Qurans was an unintentional error.

Speaking to a crowd in Spokane, Washington, Gingrich on Friday said the president “surrendered” and that his apology “deserves to be brought to the country's attention."

"The president apologized for the burning, but I haven't seen the president demand that the government of Afghanistan apologize for the killing of two young Americans," Gingrich said.

On Sunday, both Santorum and Romney echoed Gingrich's criticism of Obama for his apology.

Santorum said on talk shows on ABC and NBC that no apology was required for what he called the inadvertent Quran burnings, while Romney said on "Fox News Sunday" that "we've made an enormous contribution to help the people their achieved freedom and for us to be apologizing at a time like this is something which is very difficult for the American people to countenance."

Asked Sunday if Gingrich’s opinion reflected wider sentiments in America, Gibbs sought to remind viewers why the United States has a presence in Afghanistan and pointed to progress in disrupting a “large about of Al Qaeda’s network,” including the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“What the president's trying to do now is get us to a point where we can hand off the security of Afghanistan to the Afghans and that we can bring our troops home,” Gibbs said. “I think what he's trying to do is diffuse the tension that's there.”

– CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. sensible

    Yeah, he DOES have a chance. What does that say about today's republicans?

    February 26, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Yep... Good for you Ricky. It will be like leading the "Charge of the Light Brigade" all over again.

    February 26, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. iadadman

    Translation. PLEEEEAAAASE NOMINATE SANTORUM!

    February 26, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. Ricard

    Seems like the democrats are desperately trying to avoid facing Romney at any cost. They are clearly trying to push Santorum for having a easy victory in November. How can he come up with such a statement at a time when all the national pools indicated that the flavor of the moment is simply vanishing and there are no more candidates for anyone but Romney, Mr.Gibbs no matter how much you push him forward he is already a history

    Romney 2012

    February 26, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. Bill

    If this doesn't convince the GOP that Santorum has zero chance of beating Obama, then nothing will. If a blow hard Obama spokesman and a hard core liberal comes out and say good things about a conservative, it really tells you who they rather go up against in November. The liberals and all the Obama crazies knows that either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich will get a fraction of the independents and moderate votes. That will doom the GOP's chance of winning the general elections. Listen up conservatives, your BEST chance of beating Obama is Mitt Romney. Why do you think all the liberal media and Obama crazies are rallying behind anyone, but Mitt Romney?

    February 26, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    On today's shows Santorum also reiterated his opinion that the absolute separation of church and state is wrong. This was in reference to his remarks that JFK's speech "made his stomach turn" when JFK emphasized that "separation is absolute."

    When asked what role his faith would play if he were POTUS, he then confused the topic by talking about how anyone of any religion has "the right to come to the square". I guess he was talking about freedom of speech, specifically religious speech. In other words, he didn't answer the question.

    February 26, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Gee, Bill.. Seems like it's the GOP that seems to be rallying behind anyone but Romney. Nice try though. His he gone way up past 30% yet?

    February 26, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. sensible

    Hey Ricard.... we don't care. Either one will be squashed in November! We just like the comedy show! What can't you understand about that?

    February 26, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. sensible

    You said it Ricard......anyone but Romney!

    February 26, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. Tony in Maine

    Oh, please, please, please...

    Democrats, late night comedy and pundits everywhere are singing the Sanctus in hopes that the Holy One will shred Styrofoam Man.

    February 26, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Cindi

    GO Mittt!

    February 26, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Fla Pete

    Here we go again,more CRAP from fox news,they can't get anything straight,even their name Murdock makes ya want to scream...Santorum,Romney,write down what they said along with the Newty,because its gonna change tommorrow,like the weather,never the same.Barack will have trouble with them in debates because they are ALWAYS CHANGING their stories.Hard to debate morons,even on a good day.

    February 26, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Austin

    Gibbs wishes Santorum will be the Republican nominee because that would guarantee for more year of Obama as President... Guess what Johnny boy??? That isnt going to happen! Romney will be our candidate, once he is he can focus on Obama's horrible record as President and we can save the country from Obamacare and get the economy back on track. Unfortunately, the longer this Republican Nomination process plays out, the more it helps Obama so my fellow Republicans need to wake up and rally around the only guy who has a chance to beat Obama, Romney, so we can set our sights on our main goal which is to get rid of Obama!

    February 26, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. benjamin

    Who cares what this wind-bag says!!!!

    February 26, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. sensible

    Bill also said the magic words.....anyone, but Mitt(ens) Romney((R-money)
    I hope you are rich, Bill, otherwise you are a kool-aid sipping fool!

    February 26, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Tony

    Although Santorum lost his Senate seat by 18 points in 2006, he has a legitimate chance because Republicans just don't like/trust Romney. Voting for Romney is like voting for the Republican version of Obama. Both are moderate politicians, except that Romney does not have Obama's charisma and speaking ability, and Obama does not change positions like Romney. They even have the same health care plan.

    February 26, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. sensible

    @Austin..... President Obama is already ahead of your 'rich, fancy-pants boy'....and he hasn't begun to campaign, yet!

    February 26, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. vic , nashville ,tn

    Kathleen Parker and George Will are two smart conservative columnists week after week expressing their views about GOP candidates. They are not satisfied. Why
    Romney couldn’t connect to average Americans
    Rick Santorum won’t stop talking about religion
    Newt is doing space walking

    Now Romney = Rick= Newt for Obama campaign

    February 26, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. T'sah from Virginia

    ◄◄PREVIOUS
    ►Brewer endorses Romney◄
    Dang, I thought Brewer was going to endorse MITTen’s wife, what irony!!!
    At this point, there is really no one else to endorse
    As a matter of fact, all four candidates are off course!!

    ►Gibbs: Santorum has ‘legitimate chance’ at nomination
    So hopefully the Repubs would make the right determination
    Boy oh boy – we would love Santorum to be there more than ever
    So PLEASE Santorum, continue your ambitious endeavor!!

    Obama 2012

    February 26, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Sanitarium Santorum is an escaped mental patient – watch out – he is dangerous and unpredictable.

    February 26, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. sensible

    Let's look at the choices:
    We have 'howdy-doody'... 'Commander Data'... and the 'Stay-Puffed marshmallow man'.....(we all know Ron Paul is just along for the ride)... I don't think President Obama even has to break a sweat!

    February 26, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Greg

    So what do you pick here, a modern day savanerola who will burn people at the stake? Or a obscenely wealthy shape shifter who made his fortune, not inventing cutting edge technology, but moving money across the table and back? All we need in the republican party these days are the brownshirts (with crosses this time) and the bonfires.

    February 26, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. Greg

    Remember, for future reference, santorum and Stalin have a lot in common.

    February 26, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. ST

    I fully agree with Gibbs. Romney made a mistake right from the beginning. He became a candidate who will fix the economy and create jobs. If the trend goes like as it is now on economy and jobs, what will Romney fix then incase he becomes president? He is also one of 1% and it does not cross my mind at all, regardless whatever amount of money he can spend, how he can beat 99%. There is no way.

    February 26, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Actually, the Democrats really don't care who wins your kindergarten dodgeball game. The survivor of your really bad reality show will be crushed in November... It would have been nice for your party to put forth someone who cared about advancing this country, but alas, barring a brokered convention and a dark horse candidate, that time has passed. Good luck backing THESE clowns!!

    February 26, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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