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. Stephen in VA

    The health care bill is "the most important issue of today"? Seriously? Did you forget "jobs, jobs, jobs"? Oh, of course you did–you're a Republican. Here's what I think, though, in the words of a Democrat who once, long ago, balanced the budget: "It's the economy, stupid."

    March 6, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. Mark

    Go ahead GOP, vote for the Sanitorium.
    Romney's doing what he has to do, which is skirt around and
    appease the stupid extremists in his party. Until he gets the
    nomination, he's forced to talk out of both sides of his mouth.
    If he makes it, he can present the pragmatic, moderate position
    that this country needs. Because Obama's has been extreme,
    too, and there aren't enough extremists on the Right to get any-
    one but Romney elected.

    March 6, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Pat in IL

    Again, Santorum opens his mouth and nothing true or intelligent comes out. He still has not given any indication that he has any foreign policy or financial ideas of his own to offer. Does he think we're voting for the biggest liar, and not the President of the United States??

    March 6, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. cashmeremafia

    I think he made a mistake – he was talking about himself

    March 6, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  5. flatearth

    Sounding desperate much, Rick?

    March 6, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  6. marty

    Rick Santorum knows all about 'misleading'. He does quite well invoking empathy for the middle class and citing his grandfather as a model for – hard working citizens. Seldom does he mention the occupation of his father, who, as a VA psychiatrist, lived and raised his family on the government payroll. Rick Santorum has learned to play the government system for personal gain a long time ago.

    March 6, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. Get real

    Liberals with the help of their media want Mitt to run against Obama because they know Santorum is the only one who can beat him.

    March 6, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  8. Ferret out the BS

    Ricky Santorum is obsessed with a woman's reproductive system. What does this say about a presidential candidate who should be learning the golbal issues and speaking to them. He has already shown his Catholic religion will get in the way of running the office of the presidency. I can just see a 3AM phone call saying a launch of nuclear missles targeting the US has just occurred and Ricky asking himself "what would Jesus do?"

    March 6, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Patty - Illinois

    Santorum's wife had a decade-long live-in affair with an abortion-providing doctor prior to meeting Santorum. While he is the one running for president – not her – I can't help but wonder why the news media totally avoids any discussion on this issue. It appears that some hypocracy is going on by all parties concerned.

    March 6, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. Two 4 One

    Now it's really getting funny: the weaker candidate calls the stronger one "weak".
    The creator of the Massachusetts health care plan thinkg Obama should have called 'him' -miniMitt- to find out why miniMitt's ideas did NOT work? Delusions of grandeur? Both of them, RickySan and miniMitt?

    And we should let one of them run the country? So that they can duke it out with the other applicants for 'delusions of grandeur' in North Korea, Russia, Iran, Israel and elsewhere?

    Nah, thanks, I think we'll pass. miniMitt, go back driving your cars, couple of those, couple more of the others.
    RickySan, go back making fundamentalist babies with your wife, they will be the only 'voting block' you'll have in the foreseeable future.

    Ron, go play with the grandkids, and keep that son of yours from joining the 'delusions of grandeur' club.

    Newt, well, well, well, t'was nice seeing you around, again, and nicer to see you go. Join the other moonface Rush Blimp. You two make such a good couple. You should consider joining the mormons, multiwivers that you are.

    March 6, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. steven harnack

    I want to know how these guys plan on overturning LAWS on their first day in office. Are they going to dissolve the Congress and the Senate and assume dictatorial powers? Are they going to arrest the judges and hold them until they agree to rule in favor of Republicans?

    March 6, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. Josh

    Only if "weakest candidate" means "the only one with even a slim chance of defeating Obama in the general election".

    March 6, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. Dave

    That is funny. The democrats voted for Santorum in Michigan because they said he would be the weakest candidate against Obama. Interestingly, Santorum – the so-called conservative – alligned himself with Michael Moore and the unions, but still lost. Romney is by far the best candidate and we will see proof of that again today.

    March 6, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. Wes / MD

    The truth is, that all of candidates are weak. The weakest in quit some time. It really does not matter who the republican nominee is because Obama will drestroy them. None of the republican contenders are ready to step on that stage and go toe to toe with President Obama. It is going to be a slow painful demise for the republican party. The sad part is that most republicans in the establishment already know Obama is going to win, whether they want to admit it or not.

    March 6, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  15. Toad 390

    Way too bad and sad. Good luck in 2016 GOP because it sure isn't going to happen in 2012.

    March 6, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. dutspup

    Im actually enjoying watching the GOP make total fools of themselves, wasting & spending there corp 4skin rubbers money only to lose in the end to a black man, AGAIN. hahahaha. You repubs looks soooo silly. The only one with more than half a brain is Ron Paul but you shun him, black him out, disgard his winning polls and he's on your team, Fools!

    March 6, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. Sandy

    Santorum is almost right. Romney is a weak candidate, but Santorum is even weaker.

    March 6, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. Anonymous

    What is wrong with Health Care! We are one of the only Power Countrys in the world that doesn't have one. Maybe Obama Care as the GOP loves to call it is not perfect, but it is a start. Let's don't overturn it just tweek it!

    March 6, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. joet

    Mr. Santorum is an ex-Senator for a reason, several actually.

    March 6, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  20. tstorm

    Is it just me, or does Santorum look like "Mr. Rogers" Neighborhood in the sweater vest?? What a joke!

    March 6, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. James PDX

    It would be difficult to find bigger liars than these people running for the office of the president of the United States. They are definitely part of the top 1% in that catefgory.

    March 6, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. Anonymous010

    Once again, Santorum is wrong on both points. First, he is the weakest candidate. He is far too conservative, and thus, has no chance of getting elected because he can't draw in independents. Second, as numerous polls have shown, the most important issue of the day is the economy, not healthcare.

    March 6, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. angryoldguy

    I hope everyone will realize how sad and pathetic this whole charade has been. If these candidates are the "best & brightest" the GOP has to offer, then we are doomed! Especially if one of them should possibly win! No real plans, no workable solutions to offer except "I'm not Obama"! So what? Who are any of them really? And after this disgusting in-house slug-fest, who can really care? Worthless! The GOP might as well run a goat for president!

    March 6, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. Lindsey

    Santorum is a dangeorus theocrat in a harmless-looking sweater vest.

    Hey Rick...Americans do not want this country run by or similarly to the Catholic Church. We don't want your brand of "small government", which isn't small at all, but big and intrusive...all the way into peoples' bedrooms...where your government would stand judge and jury over Americans' personal lives. We don't want a president who does not value our right to privacy once we close our doors at night...and you said with your own big mouth that you don't believe Americans have ANY right to privacy, not even in their own homes. So how would you remedy that, Rick? Hmm? Install government cameras in each American household to make sure they're living moral lives? Authorize your God Police to kick in front doors for the same reason?? Well, it sure sounds like you would, if you say that do not respect Americans' privacy! That is a tyrannical statement, and a similar view was espoused by HITLER.

    Take your religion, practice it as you wish, but if you try to ram it down my throat, you will be sorry. Period.

    March 6, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. healthcare

    the healthcare act is going to help my family to a degree I am not sure I could explain to people. Just the simple fact that they all insures have to take me regardless of my history is astronomical. it will allow my family to shop for insurance for the first time in 7 years. I finally will not be a slave to my insurer, i will be free to move about the country if I so choose because I am guaranteed to get insurance elsewhere because of this law! No more denial of coverage, pregnancy is a forced coverage for all women under this plan! Think of the money the states will save just with that one! I could go on and on about the benefits of this bill but no one seems to listen. Everyone is stuck on misconceived bullsh!t. OBAMA ALL THE WAY!

    March 6, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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