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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. Rudy NYC

    R asked on page 1:

    "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.
    ---------–
    Who said anything about "all conservatives"? You did. I can guarantee you that far and away the vast majority of Romney supporters are conservative.

    Please do not cherrypick my words. The next sentences describe how a conservative does not support Mitt Romney. Cherrypicking words lends the appearance of being maliciously misleading.

    March 19, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. NotFooledByDistractions

    There is absolutely nothing in Romneys resume that indicates he's got the inside track on improving the economy of this country, so I find his criticisms of Santorum and Obama to be verbal vomit.

    The country is not a business, and it cannot be run as a business. Historically, "businessmen" who became presidents have been horrible presidents – Harding, Bush I, Bush II. There's no correlation between being a good businessman and being a good president.

    All we've heard from Romney is empty criticism – not solid solutions.

    March 19, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. JohnW

    "Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States?" Nope, and we don't want a theocratic throwback to the 1800s either.

    March 19, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Charlie from the North

    I am no Sanatorium fan by any stretch but enough with this ridiculous notion of having "business experience" being good for the country. That is toal crap and they know it but they can't help themselves: There has been only one President with an MBA. Know who? George W. Bush case closed.

    March 19, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    Sniffit
    ... 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.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    Interesting theory you have here Siffitt! Invest money in companies and then shut them down and make $millions. In spite of the fact that it sounds really sinister and evil and nothing could be more fun to get unions on your bandwagon, that's not how the real world works. People make money when companies prosper. Yep. That still works. And that's how Bain Capital made their money and the American economy is just a little bit better because of the work they do.

    March 19, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Well when the Salt Lake Olympic Comittee"

    Blah blah blah olympics. Mittens gets to take credit for that as soon as he gives credit to Obama for the verifiable 24 months of job growth and economic data showing that Obama pulled our wookie out of the sarlac pit. Until then, Mittens gets credit for nothing other than being a fact/reality denying taling point robot panderer.

    March 19, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Interesting theory you have here Siffitt! Invest money in companies and then shut them down and make $millions...."

    Do you not understand how the Bain capital investment model actually worked? Clearly you don't if you think it was all about investing in the companies to simply save them. Ideological platitudes about people making money "when companies prosper" don't cut it. That's nothing but fluff. You want reality? Reality is this: People also make crazy amounts of money manipulating companies into bankruptcy, laying off hundreds of workers and either forcing the company to close up shop or leaving it a downsized non-competitor to the larger corporations being served thru other investments...ones which frequently swoop in and buy it so it can either be closed or its market share captured. THAT is what Bain did. Very few companies were simply altruistically "helped to prosper." They lend the money, restructure, downsize and then force the capital to be paid back for an exorbitant profit via asset sell-offs and bankruptcy filings. And perhaps the most disgusting: they lay people off and then offer their jobs back only if they'll take a greatly reduced salaries and benefits packages...especially in areas where the manufacturer/company in question is a major source of employment for the people who live there...i.e., screw the little guy for profit because you can and they're trapped.

    March 19, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "People make money when companies prosper. "

    Clearly, you don't understand Bain's model. Reality: People also make money...LOTS of money...by investing other peoples' money in a company, restructuring and downsizing it, laying off its employees, offering them their jobs back only if they'll take greatly reduced salaries and benefits, then engaging in asset sell-offs and bankruptcy to force payback of the capital loans for an exorbitant profit....THEN paying a preferential tax rate on the money they made off investing other peoples' money as though they had invested their own money and taken all those risks themselves while screwing the labor force.

    March 19, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    @Four: "People make money when companies prosper. Yep. That still works. And that's how Bain Capital made their money and the American economy is just a little bit better because of the work they do."

    No, Mittens made his money by saddling companies with debt, using that borrowed capital to buy other companies. When the original company foundered, it went under, but Bain (and Mittens) still made a bundle on fees. Check out what happened to American Pad & Paper (Ampad) after Bain acquired it in 1992 for an object lesson in this type of capitalism. (Hint: That's why it's referred to as "vulture capitalism").

    Mittens knows how to siphon off assets, with no long-term sustainable strategy, just a desire to get rich quick, leaving destroyed companies and lost jobs in his wake. We do NOT need this kind of thinking in the White House.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    March 19, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Davis

    I don't think I want a narrow minded, senate campaign loser as POTUS, either.

    March 19, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @RudyNYC: "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."

    My bad, I stand corrected. :)

    March 19, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. DEcember 2012

    If Romney thinks he can run the country like a Wall Street CEO then that can only mean one thing in this troubled economy: the middle class will get layed off/fired while the upper class will get bonuses.

    March 19, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. MTATL67

    With 3 degrees Santorum is not dumb but he sure has no common sense. Following the extremist, nasty ugly spreading of untruth's style of Sarah Palin is stupid. "learn a lot more from your failures than you do from your successes" Wonder does he mean for everyone or just himself & Republicans.

    March 19, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Mittens knows how to siphon off assets, with no long-term sustainable strategy,"

    Nicely put. And I say again: that's precisely what he is being hired by the 1% to do..."siphon off assets"...except this time it's the federal gov't, not a private company. It's not meant nor designed to be long-term or sustainable. They want the federal gov't dead and buried and out of their way so they no longer have to do things like pay a minimum wage or hire minorities that they don't like.

    March 19, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. R

    @ Rudy NYC
    "cherrypicking" aside, you still haven't answered my question; How many conservatives have you asked if they want to elect a Wall Street captialist?

    March 19, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Kris (Las Vegas) wrote on page 1:

    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.
    ----------------
    Do you even understand the nature of the budget troubles that the SLOC was going through? They didn't have a spending crisis. They were not in debt because they had spent too much money. They were in debt because they proposed, bid for, and won The Games in the 1990s at the height of Gringrich revolution in fiscal conservatism. That means they tried to stage the event funded completely by private investors without any tax dollars.

    Fund raising was not going as fast or as smoothly as they had hoped. Donations were well behind the demands of the construction schedule. So, they called in Wall Street financier to raise private funds. Taking nothing from Romney, he raised a lot of money but still fell a billion dollars short of the goal. The US taxpayers bailed out the SLOC. Security was provided by the Dep't of Homeland Security.

    Mitt Romney's role has been completely rewritten and paved over by his supporters. Romney is a financier, who raises investment money. Romney is a salesman who sells capital investments, not some brilliant business manager. The success or failure of those investments has almost always been out of Mitt Romney's direct control.

    March 19, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    It should be noted that the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, while under Romney, requested and received millions in dollars to help them cover the costs of various programs and that Santorum voted for the funds. Both of them have come out, hat in hand, begging for the Federal Government to help them on their pet projects. No one wrote an article in the Salt Lake Tribune saying " Let the Games Fail", and complained about paybacks to corporate thugs sponsors, or some other nonsense. The hypocrisy of this pair is beyond belief.

    March 19, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    R asked on page 2:

    "cherrypicking" aside, you still haven't answered my question; How many conservatives have you asked if they want to elect a Wall Street captialist?
    ------------
    I don't have to answer your question. I don't normally conduct classes but in your case I will make an exception because I like your spunk.

    I have not asked any conservatives that specific question. Most are all to willing to provide their rationale completely unsolicited. Read some of the other posts on this blog, and you will see what I mean.

    If you are trying to deny that Mitt Romney is not a product of Wall Street, then you are barking up the wrong tree.

    March 19, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Woman In California

    IF Santorum had any sense he would call for Willard to prove (on paper) and in FACTS that he's this "financial genius". Since Willard REFUSES to give any evidence of anything worthwhile he's done (starting with job creation), I say they are BOTH light weights and BOTH are unqualified to handle this economy of which our president is doing fine without any help.

    March 19, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. R

    @ Rudy NYC
    "If you are trying to deny that Mitt Romney is not a product of Wall Street, then you are barking up the wrong tree."

    Just FYI – I do agree with you about Romney.

    March 19, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Just Say No to Flipper

    "People make money when companies prosper."

    There is an entire bankruptcy industry that proves other methods work just as well at making money. Bain and Rmoney are vampire capitalists. They do not care if the host dies as long as they can suck out most of the assets first.

    March 19, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Here is something that I continue to find amusing. Most of the same people who today praise Mitt Romney as being some sort of Einstein-like executive who knows job creation, are the same people who felt and spoke the same way about Rick Perry, Herman Cain and for some Michelle Bachmann.

    With track records for making those kinds of evaluations, how can anyone expect Mitt Romney to be anymore able and competent than anyone else that is or has been in the GOP field.

    March 19, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Mr. Moderate

    I'm curious about this "small technology company" that Santorum claims to have run. It pretty well known that when he was thrown out of the senate he took the typical DC path and cashed in on his connections and went to work for a DC think tank.

    March 19, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Zenfire

    Santorum is not the guy to take this nation to bigger and better things. Sorry – he's a divider not a builder.

    March 19, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit wrote on page 2:

    Clearly, you don't understand Bain's model. Reality: People also make money...LOTS of money...by investing other peoples' money in a company, .........
    -------–
    I have always thought that capital gains meant profits from investing your own money. I didn't realize that a major loophole exists that allows you to declare commissions that you earn from investing other people's money can declared as capital gains, too.

    So much for the conservative talking points about how capital gains is double taxed, and that the lower rate is your reward for putting your own money at risk. It seem Mitt Romney made most of his risking other people's money, sometimes even taxpayer money.

    March 19, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
1 2 3