March 5th, 2012
09:53 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum hits Romney as 'weakest candidate'

(CNN) – On the eve of Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum took one final swipe at chief rival Mitt Romney during a campaign stop Monday in the battleground state of Ohio.

"He would be the weakest candidate we could possibly put forward on the most important issue of today," Santorum said, referring to health care.

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The Republican presidential candidate spent much of his day targeting the former Massachusetts governor over the Bay State's health care program, which critics hit as a blueprint for President Barack Obama's federal health care reform.

The two candidates are locked in a neck-and-neck race as they sprint toward the finish line in Ohio's primary on Tuesday. According to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Monday, both Romney and Santorum have the backing of 32% of likely GOP primary voters in the state.

The former senator argued Romney has been "misleading" in his campaign when he defends the Massachusetts health care program as legislation that worked in his state, but would oppose a federally-backed health care system.

To hammer home his point, Santorum cites a 2009 op-ed by Romney in USA Today, in which Romney boasted of his state's health care program and offered suggestions on how the president could learn from the Massachusetts plan.

Santorum, who strongly takes issue with Romney's plan, accused the former governor on Monday of now being evasive in his position on health care while on the campaign trail.

"He won't be able to ignore and avoid answering the questions in the fall," Santorum cautioned.

Romney, meanwhile, frequently argues against Obama's health care program, distinguishing the Massachusetts model as one that was tailor-made for the state and passed with bipartisan support, unlike Obama's plan, which he says was "forced" through Congress and interferes too heavily in the private sector.

At a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday, Romney further laid out his defense on the issue of health care.

"Mr. President one more thing: Why didn't you call me when you were working on this thing? Why didn't you pick up the phone and say, 'Is what you are doing in Massachusetts a good model for the nation?' And I'd have said, 'No, no. What you are doing is wrong. It's going to make a mess,'" Romney said.

Also see:

Poll: All tied up in Tennessee

Romney gets backing from key Republicans

Barbara Bush robo calls for Romney

Romney, Santorum tied in Ohio


Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Mitt Romney • Ohio • Rick Santorum
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Jaywing

    Actually Ricky, you and your drive to establish a dumb-downed theocratic police state, would be the weakest candidate, because only 5% of the American voting public would cast a vote for you. Now, if North Koreans, Iranians, and Syrians could vote in the US election, you might get 8%; but then an ugly, lame, yellow dog running on the Democratic ticket would beat you by 92%. No offense to the ugly, lame yellow dogs out there. It's just a metaphor... probably.

    March 5, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. pn

    I dislike him, but at least Romney knows what century we are living in.

    March 5, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  3. Get real

    Santorum is the one who gives a us real chance at stopping Obamacare. Vote Santorum!

    March 5, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Get real

    Yeah I know well it's late

    March 5, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. aaron

    What's the health care issue with Repubs? They don't want anyone to have access to health care except for the rich, so they should just present it that way and be honest for a change.

    March 5, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Next to Rick, Mittens may be the most incompetent republican to ever run for president.

    March 5, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  7. NauticalMan

    No big fan of Governor Romney, but Massachusetts is doing just fine with our health care system to my knowledge. Somewhere around 95% of adults and over 98% of children are now covered, and additional costs are somewhere around 1 to 2% extra in our budget. Compare that with some other states, such as Texas, home to that brilliant governor who ran for President and vilified Obama. Those without insurance there are somewhere in the vicinity of 27%, a disgrace for a state with the wealth they have..

    March 5, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Ozzie

    Time to go home, Ricky.

    March 5, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  9. NDblue

    Romney is weak and I hope women will remember his weak response to Rush's disgusting rant. Pathetic.

    March 5, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Perfectly-Lubricated-Wind-Vane

    You mean Rmoney is the weakest candidate or the least unelectable?

    March 5, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There are so many problems with all of the candidates. I don't know how Romney can be the weakest one. Santorum has so many weaknesses as well.

    March 5, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  12. Satberry

    The pathological lier is at it again.He just can't be honest.I would think his religion would not tolerate this behavior.Although Joseph Smith was a con artist also.It has to be a cult.

    March 5, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  13. GI Joe.

    Is Ayatolla Santorum THAT out of touch? the MAIN issue = JOBS (NOT tax cuts for the wealthy as proven over the last 10 years).

    March 5, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  14. politics as usual

    Nice try, Santorum.

    March 5, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Ricky seems to have been getting downright frothy lately.

    March 5, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  16. Bill

    Is this guy for real? He has become a joke. Talking about abortion, contraception, and satan makes him the strongest candidate? It's the economy stupid! Why does he think the left and the Obama administration wants him to be the nominee? All the left have been doing is attacking Romney at every turn. They even went out of their way in Michigan to help him win the State (even though that didn't work). Now he's saying Romney is the weakest candidate? The left want him to be the nominee because HE"S THE WEAKEST CANDIDATE. Does he think people are that stupid? Wait he thinks religion will blind people from reality and just vote for him for the heck of it. This man is pathetic. If he's the GOP nominee, the Republican Party is finished.

    March 5, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Rick Santorum is right.

    All five of Mitt Romney's sons avoided military service. Yes Mitt is weak .

    March 5, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  18. Ex-GOP Con

    Super Tuesday will be a referendum on the current state of the GOPTEA Party. Will it show that it is the party of true conservatism and push Ron Paul to the top?

    Or will it show that the country is left of center and push Romney-the architect of government mandates healthcare-the most liberal of the GOP candidates-even closer to the nomination?

    March 6, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  19. Voter

    Romney will win!!! Santorum is a chump!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  20. USHonor

    ObamaCare depending on the source states that it will cost between $400 billion and $1.2 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office states that the cost will be $829 billion with job losses totaling around 1.6 million.

    March 6, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  21. AnotherRick

    Hey Rick, I thought the "most important issue of the day" was going to be jobs... followed closely by the economy. Remember: "It's the economy, stupid". At any rate, I don't think this country is ready for the Tea Bagger's Sharia Law. Interesting how "tea bagger" and "Santorum" go so well together...makes ME "want to throw up".

    March 6, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  22. rec

    What does it make you when you LOOSE to the weakest candiate?...LOL

    March 6, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  23. stta

    It would be a breath of fresh air if a candidate would stop try to win the primaries by going off the deep end right and just demonstrate they can work out realistic solutions that would actually work. Instead they make ridiculous claims of what they will do and unfounded attacks of what their opponents would do just to appease the fanatics that live in a unrealistic, selfish conservative bubble instead of the real world.

    March 6, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  24. logicnLA

    Santorum would be the scariest person we could put in the White House, so I guess they should both just drop out.

    March 6, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  25. Iamnotfooled

    Santorum and Romney are weak. They could not even take on Rush Limbaugh. Weak-Weak-Weak. Cowards.

    March 6, 2012 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
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