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. ThinkAgain

    Anyone who cannot accept that Republican economic policies are PROVEN FAILURES is a lightweight.

    They are also delusional. Ricky needs to talk to David Stockman, the architect of "trickle-down economics" (or, as GHW Bush so rightly called it, "voodoo economics"). Stockman has publicly said for a long time now that trickle-down DOES NOT WORK.

    Ricky should also read up on the economic history of our country, which has ALWAYS fares better economically under Democratic administrations than Republican ones. THIS IS FACT.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    March 19, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    47/50 in job creation Willard. Prior to you becoming governor, Massachusetts was ranked alot higher than 47th in the nation.

    March 19, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Economic lightweight"? Can the Ayatollah not recognize when someone deliberately qualified their criticism to pull the punch? Seriously. He's an ALL AROUND LIGHTWEIGHT. A pious, pandering, preening, prancing clown whose policy positions are universally putrid. Whoever called him an "economic lightweight" was obviously focusing it on just the economics to not be too hard on him by pointing out that the dude's a lightweight on everything.

    March 19, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. politics as usual

    Santorum just keeps putting his foot in his mouth. Does he really think we're going to be impressed that he FAILED in the technology firm he started? I would be a lot more comfortable with someone in the White House who has learned from his successes.

    March 19, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    "Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States?"
    -------------
    This *country* does not want to elect a Wall Street capitalist, it is conservatives who want to do that. Yes, Rick. I can believe it. Since you are a conservative I figured you would have a better perspective and understanding. If you, as a conservative's conservative, cannot begin to believe it, then perhaps Mitt Romney's right. You are an economic lightweight.

    March 19, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Santorum got it right this time. Keep hitting Romney hard. Maybe the Democrats can use Santorum's statements in the presidential campaign, President Obama vs. Romney.

    March 19, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. king

    someone please name me one repubs policy that was a success? the only reason why repubs get away with being viable politicians, is only because their corporate linkies, whom they allow time after time to rape the american people own the massive media pool. obama is like peanuts bucking against this mamoth machine to look out for the well fare of the same people, who the repubs will encourage to sell their own interest in trying to defeat the president. the last time the repub and their corporate friends held office, they build up a fake economy, telling folks that every thing was good, until the government looked in their vaults and found out it was empty. then the whole card house come crashing down. it took obama to build the house up by setting a real foundations, and regulate corporations to force them into doing the right thing. now the people will try to bring us back where we came, may YAH help us all.

    March 19, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. cali girl

    Pick betweem a Wall Street Expert of a Woman hater?

    March 19, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. coy4one

    The GOP candidates (with the exception of Paul) are being so dramatic and using some pretty harsh ammunition against each other. So harsh, that I think whoever the nominee is will lose the general election because they have given too much to the democrats. It's most likely a 'shoe-in' for President Obama!

    March 19, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Jill

    Since when did Willard Mitt Romney ever solved economic issues for anyone but himself and his investors and friends. We are all economic lightweights to Willard Mitt Romney because he has more stacks of money than the rest of us do. So in his world, he wins.

    March 19, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Sanitorium, likes all the GOP candidates, are economic lightweights because they parrot the lie that the President can somehow affect gas prices.

    Everyone with a working brain knows that oil speculators on Wall Street (in part driven by all this "go to war with Iran" nonsense the GOP is spouting) have a HUGE effect on oil prices. BTW, if these speculators had to actually take possession of the oil they are "buying," and incur those very real costs, they might be less tempted to play the market so recklessly.

    And this Keystone pipeline crap? According to the today's Christian Science Monitor, "oil supplies aren’t being squeezed. Over 80 percent of America’s energy needs are now being satisfied by domestic supplies. In fact, we’re starting to become an energy exporter. Demand for oil isn’t rising in any event. Demand is down in the U.S. compared to last year at this time, and global demand is still moderate given the economic slowdowns in Europe and China. "

    This noise about gas prices is just a way to try to keep voters from accepting that all of the GOP's economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    And they all the GOP contenders are lightweights all around.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    March 19, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. maggie

    Sorry Santorum, your own state wouldn't re-elect you by a wide margin. And you want the rest of the country to support you? Not.

    March 19, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "I forgot to add that Romney continually gets painted as a "negative campaigner", but in every single interview I have seen him in he focuses on Obama"

    And he does so as a negative campaigner. He should be focused on himself and what he believes and plans...THAT is being positive. Mittens has run on two things alone: (1) "blah blah blah Obama" and (2) "check it out...I can manage to atke self-contradictory positions and the MSM won't dare call me out on it, because they need a horse race to sensationalize."

    March 19, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    ThinkAgain wrote:

    ...Stockman has publicly said for a long time now that trickle-down DOES NOT WORK.
    ---------
    I believe his exact words he used something to the effect of, "does not create jobs." Trickle Down Economics works exactly as it was intended. It drains the middle class, and funnels wealth upwards.

    March 19, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. steve

    Well we don't need Pope in Chief either, i rather have Wall Street then Pope Street. Wack job!!

    March 19, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Wayne

    Willard is in no position to call El Santo a light-weigt, given that he left MA with a 30% approval rating and given also that MA was 3rd lowest in job creation when Willard was govenor. Empty-Suit-Wall-Street-Shill Willard needs to look in the mirror.

    March 19, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. normajean @ verizon ,com

    DON'T YOU JUST LOVE IT????? they are so busy fighting among themselves that I think they've lost track of what they were fighting for!!!! ........Frankly neither one of them is presidential material. Romney , being so wealthy has no reference to the middle and lower financial classes who are still struggling. He cannot possibly relate to someone with vertually No money. Santorum is so completely wrapped in his religion which he wants to spread to include everyone else. I don't know anyone who is planning to vote for one nor the other!!!! Personally, I don't trust them and I think women will vote heavely against them!!!!!

    March 19, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. dagoberto

    Rick, just go home and stop playing the fool. You're a disgrace for the GOP.

    March 19, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    Don't be offended Mr. Santorum. In relation to Mitt Romney, most people are economic lightweights. And yes, we do want to elect someone who understands the economy. We want an expert, and we want an expert manager and we want someone who has proven themselves able to manage a government to a budget. This pretty much leaves everyone out except one guy. Romney 2012!

    March 19, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. R

    @ Rudy NYC
    "This *country* does not want to elect a Wall Street capitalist, it is conservatives who want to do that."

    How many conservatives have you asked if they want to elect a Wall Street captialist? Got any data to back up that claim of yours?

    My point is, don't assume that all conservatives want the same thing, because they don't.

    March 19, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. beevee

    May be Mr. Santorum can call Romney will bea lead (as in the metal lead) load on the economy if he gets nominated

    March 19, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "My point is, don't assume that all conservatives want the same thing, because they don't."

    Then why do you goose-step to the polls and vote along party lines?

    "Don't be offended Mr. Santorum. In relation to Mitt Romney, most people are economic lightweights."

    Indeed. Have you seen his tax returns? I mean, the guy has so much money that despite all the preferential tax deductions and loopholes he exploits as one of the 1%, he still paid taxes equivalent to about 100 middle class salaries in 2010...and that's with his sweetheart deal of a 13.9% effective tax rate. Economic lightweight he is not. He made all that money doing to private sector companies exactly what the GOP/Teatrolls want to do to the federal government: downsizing, layoffs and declarations of bankruptcy that eventually lead to it folding....all while certain select people make a profit off it. Hmmmm.. now who would profit the most from the fedearal government being destroyed? Couldnt' be that 1% now could it? Naaaaaah...they're all so altruistic and concerned about their fellow man.....excuse me while I vomit.

    March 19, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    Yes, sure Romney understands the economy alright, which is why the people of MA saw slightly under 75,000 jobs generated under Romney over 4 years, with a growth rate of under 1.5% over 4 years( US Bureau of Labor Statistics). How can he be expected to understand what the priorities for growing the economy are when he could not create good conditions for MA? The truth is, he had very little impact since he was dependent upon large amounts of government seed money to spur growth in emerging industries like biomedical engineering, money that was not there due to the tax cuts the GOP put in place in DC. Its stunning, in light of this tepid performance, that Romney is continuing to sell his snake oil on how great he is at understanding the economy, when the only job he really cares about is his own.

    March 19, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Rosslaw

    Mittens' team always cites Staples as an example of a company that "prospered" under Bain Capital's tender care. Staples survived Bain & Company's loading it up with debt for no purpose other than to "buy back" Bain & Company's shares at inflated prices. Nothing to brag about.

    March 19, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Kris (Las Vegas)

    @Jill

    Well when the Salt Lake Olympic Comittee found themselves up to their neck in scandal and budget turmoil they decided to bring in Romney to clean up the mess. He turned red numbers into black and got the thing turned around. I understand he had lots of help and didn't do it on his own. He received government backing to help also, but I will never get over what I heard from one detractor. He said that Mitt can not take the credit for himself, and that he benefitted from hiring the right personel in the right positions. Isn't that basically what an executive does? Great leaders don't do things on their own. Great leaders know how to delegate, and Romney knows how to delegate.

    March 19, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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