March 26th, 2012
04:32 AM ET
3 years ago

Santorum: Romney 'worst Republican' to run against Obama

Franksville, Wisconsin (CNN) – Rick Santorum on Sunday said Mitt Romney’s ties to universal health care would make him the “worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama” in the general election.

Despite calls from his party to focus on Obama, Santorum has intensified his critique of Romney in recent days.

Last week, he was widely criticized for suggesting there are so few differences between his presidential rival and the democratic president that “we may as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk” with Romney.

As he campaigned in Wisconsin over the weekend, the former Pennsylvania senator continued to cast aspersions on Romney’s ability to defeat an incumbent president if he were to become the Republican nominee.

According to Santorum, the biggest risk with Romney is the Massachusetts health care reform law, implemented when he was governor and which became the “blueprint” for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare - the mandate that every American buy health insurance.

“Seventy-five percent of Americans disagree with Obamacare's mandate. Why would the Republican Party nominate someone who agrees with that mandate, on the most important issue of the election? That's why it's become so important because it's the establishment types who don't mind Obamacare,” Santorum told a crowd at a bowling alley in Fond du Lac on Sunday. “They're okay with someone who will be just a little different from Obama. Bottom line is, we're not going to win with someone who is just a little different.”

Later, at a rally held at South Hills Country Club south of Milwaukee, Santorum assailed his Republican opponent, even though he endorsed Romney during the latter’s presidential run in 2008.

"Why would we put someone up who is uniquely - pick any other Republican in the country – he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?"

Santorum delivered those sharp words in a passionate but measured tone in which he delivers most of his stump speeches.

But a spokesman for Romney, who was watching from the back of the room, characterized the delivery differently.

On Twitter, Ryan Williams described it as an “epic temper tantrum” and called the former senator a “desperate, angry, flailing candidate going off the rails.”

In an e-mail statement, Williams added, “He realizes conservatives are rallying around Mitt Romney as his path to the nomination evaporates. And now he is in full panic mode. His behavior is sad to watch.”

Santorum did however lose his cool later when a reporter approached him along the rope line after his speech.

Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times was on the receiving end of Santorum’s testy response. Immediately after the exchange Zeleny recounted what happened to CNN.

"I said, ‘Do you think that Mitt Romney is really the worst Republican in the country to run against Obama?’ - which is what he said. And he said, ‘I didn't say that. You guys are distorting what I'm saying,’” said Zeleny.

Then, Zeleny said, Santorum asked him to “quit distorting my words. It’s bulls-.”

“You don’t care about the truth at all do you? You really don’t. Asking that question tells me you don’t care at all about the truth,” Santorum added.

The White House hopeful may have accused the reporter of distorting his words, but hours later his campaign released a long statement relishing in Santorum’s labeling of Romney, claiming he went on the “offensive” in Franksville and “exposed exactly how Mitt Romney is uniquely disqualified to contrast President Obama on the most important issue of the day, healthcare.”

The statement also said, “In fact, Rick Santorum spoke plainly and clearly that of all the Republicans in the field, Mitt Romney is the worst possible candidate to take on Barack Obama, because Mitt Romney authored the blueprint for Obamacare and the issue of healthcare would be off the table.”


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum • Wisconsin
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Johnson

    Any Republican running for President is the worst candidate to run against President Obama.

    Obama 2012

    March 26, 2012 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  2. Charlie in Maine

    Santorum: Romney 'worst Republican' to run against Obama

    This from one of the worst Republicans ever? I used to call them clowns but I have gottten so many complaints from clowns.

    March 26, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  3. Marry

    One would like to say: Rick is losing his grip! But actually he has lost it all a long time ago – if he has ever had a grip on life or whatever he is/was doing! But, he is not alone. It is unbelievable what the GOP has shown us has become of them! Truly on all levels from policies to behavior – pandering to the absolute lowest denomination possible. And every day they come up with more insults and inacceptable behavior. Disgusting and shameful that is the GOP of today!

    March 26, 2012 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  4. vito

    time to get this circus over with – Rick time to show some class n dignity n call it a campaign
    suspension – female voters will be 60% expect to lose up to 80±% – U'd b toast in Nov

    March 26, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  5. denny

    President Santorum is a man of God who will restore Christian values to America.

    March 26, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  6. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    It's fine. Ricky Santorum seeks the votes of the unhinged GOBP, so he fits right in.

    March 26, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  7. Brenda

    Romney may well be the weakest front runner since 1920 but at least he is not as hate-crazed as El Santo and Nero Newt.

    March 26, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  8. informed voter

    The whole republican field is a sad testament to how low the once proud party has sunk. The choices offered are all deplete of integrity, diplomacy, intelligence, and all seem desperate for the power they hope to gain from high office. They are simply pathetic. Obama 2012, seriously, the only sane choice.

    March 26, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Rick, you may be on to something. Mittens is a non stop liar, Newt is nuts, and you rick, are certifiably insane. Quite a tribute to the party of big oil, wall street, and the upper 1%.

    March 26, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  10. odd-i-see

    I honestly cannot see how Santorum is still in this race. It makes me wonder just how many Americans are so mindless and can't see what he really represents and how he is just another etch-a-sketch running for President just like Romney. i mean really, Santorum is a viable option? Im not an Obama fan at all, but put him up against Santorum and he will be with us for another 4 years.

    March 26, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  11. Donkey Party

    The Republican "candidates" (and the GOP in general) can't even remember when they're lying or not. I can't decide which is worse, how pathetically incompetent the GOP is, or how incompetent their blind, brainwashed supporters are.

    March 26, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  12. Ricardo

    That's a loser talk

    March 26, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  13. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Santorum is right. I don't see how you expect to run against the President on a piece of legislation that is almost identical to legislation you passed.

    March 26, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  14. Wake up people

    Wow, wasn't it just a few days ago that it was 57% disagree? Where do the rethugs get their numbers? I can't believe so many people don't want to see people with health care. What a sad people we have become.

    March 26, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  15. patrick

    the republican needs mitt rommey & his 5 sons with their millions overseas, paying no taxes or as little taxes as they can cause they are the job creators, while the real job creatorcant get a real tax break now we see where the republican loyalty realy lies

    March 26, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  16. Nobama

    In 2006, Santorum could not see he would lose reelection.

    Now, he is making the same mistake. He himself is the worst person to run

    March 26, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  17. GI Joe.

    No he's not, Ayatollah - YOU are.

    March 26, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Rick Santorum thinks the press has mischaracterized his statement he made that "Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country." The truth is that Santorum appeared to clarify his statement a couple of hearbeats after he said it....and saw the shocked expressions on people's faces.

    March 26, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |