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. Matthew

    Some lying lady with a vote for Obama sticker on her bumper just backed up into my wifes car! The obama lying lady got out and asked my wife why she backed into her!! Obama is rubbing off and instilling his values on Americans!!! Now since it was in a meijer private parking lot the police can't do anything and were gonna have to buy a new rear bumper panel cause insurance will say he said she said.
    C'mon Santorum..we need your values to rub off onto all americans!!!! On the Lords Day even! Lyin Obama supporters.

    February 26, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Ricardo

    If u think Romney can beat Obama u r a moron like Newt is

    February 26, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. 1608

    Game Change... March 10 on hbo go Palin.

    February 26, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    The number one policy goal Santorum has in mind is:

    1. Government has no business intruding into people’s private lives – NO MORE BIG GOVERNMENT!

    February 26, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Ricardo

    I bet u put all four GOP candidates together they can't beat Obama. I mean four on one

    February 26, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    The number two policy goal Santorum wants is:

    2. All women MUST BE FORCED BY THE GOVERNMENT to have a t-r-a-n-s-v-a-g-i-n-a-l ultrasound against their will!

    February 26, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I knew of a republican who lied us into war, and that cost us 6000 of our finest killed, 40,000 of our finest wounded, hundred of thousands of civilians killed, a put over a trillion dollars on our national debt. I am so sick of the mental midgets who supported him. W's lies have convinced republicans that you can lie about anything and get away with it.

    February 26, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Santorum's third policy goal is to:

    3. Ban all a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n-s even in cases of Rr-Aa-Pp-Ee because that should be seen as a gift of life!

    Hi, my name is Rick Santorum and I approve this message. Vote for me gals because I am a ladies man! Wink, wink.

    February 26, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I am not sure if the Pope is still in charge of the catholic church, now that Rick has gone after his views on climate control.

    February 26, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. Bart

    Romney is a giant phony who will do or say anything to get power. Guarantee – once he gets the nomination, he will tack hard left. Many Republicans will feel betrayed and will not show up on election day. With Santorum, we know what we are getting.

    February 26, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    The number one policy goal Santorum has in mind is:

    1. Government has no business intruding into people’s private lives – NO MORE BIG GOVERNMENT!

    The number two policy goal Santorum wants is:

    2. All women MUST BE FORCED BY THE GOVERNMENT to have a t-r-a-n-s-v-a-g-i-n-a-l ultrasound against their will!

    Santorum's third policy goal is to:

    3. Ban all a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n-s even in cases of Rr-Aa-Pp-Ee because that should be seen as a gift of life!

    Hi, my name is Rick Santorum and I approve this message. Vote for me gals because I am a ladies man! Wink, wink.

    February 26, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. nothing new here

    Santorum = flavor of the month.

    Maybe the Pope will give Santorum a job in the Vatican. He will need it after the election.

    February 26, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Santorum wants to be POTUS:

    Pope of the United States

    February 26, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. mirrorlogic

    Just like Texans once yelled remember the ALAMO! Michigan should yell remember the OP ED!

    Romney does not deserve to win Michigan because he recommended killing the car industry - the markets couldn't have managed bankruptcy – the private markets were dead, no money was moving (remember)?

    The bailout saved the companies and all those jobs!

    February 26, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Gemini Girl

    Come on! You & I know that Obama's people are hoping it is Santorum left standing after the dust settles, because he will be THE EASIEST TO BEAT! By far!! There is no way that Santorum can win! Even crazy people feel he is too uber-crazy!!

    February 26, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. diridi

    None of the current idiots from Republican RICH party win this time. sure. it is Obama beats all. GM Alive, Bin Laden Dead.
    O-B-A-M-A2012/Hillary16.
    PS: Idiots, please do not cry, i mean rich idiots....We are Middle Class Americans.

    February 26, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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