April 4th, 2012
09:04 AM ET
2 years ago

McCain: Santorum's 'irrelevant'

(CNN) – The status of Rick Santorum's presidential bid is "irrelevant" following Tuesday's elections, Mitt Romney backer Sen. John McCain said on Wednesday.

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Romney must now pivot to the general election and focus on restoring his image, bruised by the GOP primary fight.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"Whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, is now basically irrelevant and Mitt has a lot of ground to make up," McCain said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." "I'm confident he can make it up, but every day that goes by that he's not in the general campaign is a day lost."

The senior Arizona senator said Romney's unfavorable ratings are high due to the bitterest primary battle he has observed. McCain said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, pivoted affectively toward President Barack Obama Tuesday night following victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., something he must continue to do given Santorum's bleak delegate outlook.

Santorum vowed once again on Tuesday night to remain in the nomination fight, despite a trailing delegate count and falling national and state wide poll numbers. Romney currently has 648 delegates, well ahead of Santorum's 264, according to a CNN estimate. Romney must win 44% of the remaining delegates to reach 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. Santorum needs to win 79% of the remaining delegates to do the same.

Assuming Romney becomes the nominee, McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate. He predicted a difficult decision for Romney given the potential picks, who he said included Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie,  Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

McCain specifically touted the virtues of nominating Rubio for the No. 2 spot.

"I think obviously Marco Rubio would be one of the prime contenders for a whole variety of reasons, including by the way he's been a very impressive senator during the time he's been in the Senate," McCain said of the freshman tea party favorite.

Also see:

Santorum on losses: 'It's halftime'

Romney pounces on Obama's budget remarks

Gingrich not pleased after shout out from Obama


Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. gg

    i seen the clip where he was endorsing obama-till the crowd woke him up -it was hilarious

    April 4, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. s

    McCain is right Santorum is irrelevant,but so is McCain

    April 4, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. GonzoinHouston

    Santorum's already working on his 2016 run. By finishing a close second, and possibly being the VP candidate, he will set himself up as Next In Line, which is an important position for the GOP. He's demonstrating that the Christian Taliban are firmly in his corner and will stay home in November unless he gets whatever it is that he wants. Romney clearly has the nomination, but there's far more to presidential politics than that.

    April 4, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  4. GI Joe

    Oooooooooh – the great wise one that knows the difference between winners and losers.

    Oh wait .................

    April 4, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Santorum has always been irrelevant, now more than ever.

    April 4, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    "I think obviously Marco Rubio would be one of the prime contenders for a whole variety of reasons, including by the way he's been a very impressive senator during the time he's been in the Senate,"
    ---------------------------------------------
    Blount-Rubio Amendment#enoughsaid
    If Willard chooses Fidel Rubio, he can kiss the women's vote goodbye.

    April 4, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. SHW58

    It's interesting that Newt Gingrich is still running dispite the fact he can't even keep pase with Ron Paul. What a waste of taxpayers money. He should be called the candidate from nowhere.

    April 4, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. GI Joe

    I found it interestng that someone said romney shellacked them all. With Dc, (3,000 votes out of 600,000 population) it definitely was a big republican on republican shellacking. ha ha ha ha ha

    April 4, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. Nick-o

    It sucks when a political party is more concerned about winning elections than governing our country and protecting it from the fascist Supreme Court. I can now be strip-searched for anyhing from jaywalking to driving too fast. Grow some balls, legislators, and put the Supreme Court back in it's place. It's your fault anyway, for allowing Bushes cronies to infiltrate the almighty Supreme Court. Freedom is all good for guns and religion, but what about freedom from "private" invasion?

    April 4, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. GI Joe

    An DC was the only 70% win he's ever had. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    April 4, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  11. maf

    An irrelevant speaking about another who is irrelevant. . . how irrelevant!!

    April 4, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    They are staying in the race to get matching funds from the taxpayers, folks.

    April 4, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. Mark

    Santorum is about as irrelevant as Ross Perot. He has a short temper, a long memory, and believes he is fighting a higher cause. He is in Terry Schaivo mode. Either the GOP soothes him, or he goes independent. Take a quick gander at Wisconsin folks. Do you think Romney can beat Obama head to head with Santorum on the ticket as a third choice?

    April 4, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. RJM

    Just like Huckabee did in 2008, the Christian-right Santorum is staying in not to win, but rather to keep a Mormon from getting the nomination – even though he's a good man and right for the job. Not a very "christ-like" thing to do.

    April 4, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Common Cents

    Rubio is even less qualified than Palin. How could anyone, other than the extremists, consider him a viable option if something were to happen to the president? Not only that, he was mired in scandel prior to becoming a Senator, like being paid by a university to teach a class he never taught in return for more state funding.

    April 4, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. Emmy Skaddittle

    I love the infighting, let there be a brokered convention and nobody will be happy with the canidate

    April 4, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. SayWhat

    If Santorum is irrelevant, then that means the tea party vote is irrelevant. Even John McCain acknowledged that relevancy by bringing in Palin. Romney will have to do that if he wants their support, thus proving Santorum is relevant.

    April 4, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. rob

    Great advice Mr McCain: DO NOT rush to judgment!!!! Palin's ears are ringing and there is a sharp pain on her cheek!!!

    April 4, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  19. NotFooledByDistractions

    Ha!! If anyone knows irrelevance, it's John McCain. Hello pot, meet kettle.

    April 4, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. Jason F

    After the 2010 election, the general population is now awakening to the danger the Tea Party represents. Complete regression will only allow every other country in the world to dominate over the US; any pandering to any part of that philosiphy will only guarantee the decline of our country. From gay marriage to health care....they're all laughing at us, folks.

    April 4, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Mark asked:

    Santorum is about as irrelevant as Ross Perot. He has a short temper, a long memory, and believes he is fighting a higher cause. He is in Terry Schaivo mode. Either the GOP soothes him, or he goes independent. Take a quick gander at Wisconsin folks. Do you think Romney can beat Obama head to head with Santorum on the ticket as a third choice?
    ----------–
    Nope.

    According McCain, Santorum is irrelevant. Most replies are trending towards agreeing with that opinion, including myself. So on that note, if you remove Santorum from your scenario, then that means Barack Obama still wins.

    April 4, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. gt

    and so is newt.....

    April 4, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. R.I.P. Damon

    I hope that Santorum, Gingrich and Paul are listening to this. I believe this was an unfortunate comment by Sen. McCain, but it foreshadows the feeling that a growing number of prominent Republicans have. The only one who has even the slightest chance of catching Romney is Santorum, and his chances are slim at the very best. Many of the states remaining in the primary season are traditionally blue states, and Romney is almost guaranteed to win all or the majority of them. It's time to face the fact that he will win the nomination and get the party back together and focus on Pres. Obama and the general election.

    April 4, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    We will get an accurate measure of the relevance of the Republican Party when the state of Wisconsin votes in June on the Gov. Scott Walker recall. Judging from the sheer volume of petition signatures, Walker will most likely lose. We are anxiously awaiting to see by how much.

    April 4, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. Ed1

    Santorum time to get out and unite the party and go after our rock star Obama.

    April 4, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11