March 19th, 2012
12:34 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum hits back at 'economic lightweight' charge

(CNN) – Rick Santorum hit back at the charge he is an "economic lightweight" Monday, proclaiming the American people didn't want a Republican presidential candidate with ties to big banks.

"I heard Governor Romney here called me an economic lightweight because I wasn't a Wall Street financier like he was. Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States?" Santorum asked at a campaign rally in Rockford, Illinois. Santorum was campaigning in the state ahead of Tuesday's primary.

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On Friday, Mitt Romney's campaign began airing television ads in Illinois launching the "economic lightweight" charge at Santorum, citing media reports critical of the former Pennsylvania senator's plan for the economy. Romney uses the term frequently in describing his rival for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. He also levies the charge at President Barack Obama.

At his rally Monday, Santorum said Romney's experience as a founder and CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, was a negative attribute for a candidate looking to solve the problems of middle class Americans.

"Do you think that is the kind of experience we need? Someone who is going to take and look after, as he did, his friends on Wall Street and bail them out at the expense of Main Street America?" Santorum asked.

Romney has defended the bailouts of certain financial institutions following the 2008 economic crisis, saying at a debate in October, "We could have had a complete meltdown. Action had to be taken. Was it perfect? No. Was it well implemented? Not particularly."

He went on to tout his own experience in the private sector, saying he learned valuable lessons from helping started a technology firm that eventually failed.

"I may have less than experience in Wall Street than Governor Romney does," Santorum said. "My experience in the private sector was helping to manage a small technology company after I left the United States Senate. I worked three years on it. We didn't succeed. We fought through a very tough economic time but you know what? It was a great experience for me. One of the things I found in life is you learn a lot more from your failures than you do from your successes."

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Santorum's background lacked any discernable record of job creation, comparing it to Obama's.

"[Santorum] ought to scare every conservative when it comes to his economic record," Saul said. "He's an economic lightweight. We should know that we're not going to turn around this economy by replacing one former senator with zero job-creating experience with another senator with zero job-creating experience."


Filed under: Illinois • Rick Santorum
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. cali girl

    Anyone seen House of Lies? A show on Showtime, reminds me of Bain Cap. Taking down companies just to get a buck.
    That is not helping the American people or the ecomony, it only helps the 1%.

    March 19, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. scef

    Since 1950 there has been 100 months of recessions under rep administrations and 12 months under dem administrations. The 2 worst economic downturns have come under extended repub administrations and it has been the dems who have rescued the economy and the country and placed us on the road to prosperity and global dominance. Jvst a fact.

    March 19, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Curt

    I'am hoping Santorum wins the nomination. He is such a religious fanatic and is so unqualified to be President that I'am sure Obama would slaughter him in the election. Probably go down as the worst defeat in American politics.

    March 19, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. yuri

    Gaffes and garbages that keep on giving. These 2 neanderthals need to attack each other so fiercely that no one will bother to mediate, until the final delegate count engenders a brokered convention. It pretty much resembles a street fight.

    March 19, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. tony

    Mitt Romney is not qualified to be president in America we will be in the same boat that we were under bush and the republicans slave labor slave wages. keep all republicans out.

    March 19, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Michigan patriot

    Rick Santorum should stop attacking Romney, and get on Obama. I cann't believe how nasty this is getting. The main focus is to get rid of the worst president ever. Keep on the issues that matter, like the economy, jobs, GAS, values that this country was founded on.

    March 19, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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