April 4th, 2012
09:04 AM ET
3 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.

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"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. peacedog

    though mccain may be insignificant since leaving the military, i agree with him on wacky wicky. time to give it up. he has shown american what a head case he really is.

    April 4, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    McCain has been there so he knows what it is to be irrelevant. He also knows how not to pick a running mate, how not to get elected as the POTUS and how not to gracefully leave public office. I hope Romney soaks up every bit of McCain's extensive knowledge on how to run a campaign. Go, Johnny, go!!!

    April 4, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. sqeptiq

    Having McCain advise Romney not to "rush to judgement" on his veep pick is as close as the old coot can publicly come to dissing his own stupid choice.

    April 4, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. San Jose, CA

    Romney would be shoe-in with Rubio.
    He would put the boot-in with Gov Martinez from NM

    If Romney picks a white male[I am one] I will register non-partisan.
    Republicans will show incompetence with another white male.
    Politically, he must pick a Hispanic to win.
    Be smart Mitt.
    Martinez
    Rubio
    Jindal

    April 4, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Mike

    That is the pot calling the kettle black isn't it?

    April 4, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Fuzzy Wuzzy

    Assuming Romney becomes the nominee, McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate. Wow! He should have followed his own advice. The country still awaits his apology for the Palin pick.

    April 4, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    Please mccain, after what you did to the country, your party and the whole world back in 2008 even if you are right, you are pathetic and who wants to listen to anything you say!!!
    Go live in one of your seven or eight homes.

    April 4, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. jb1963

    John Can't be allowed to give advise. He did after all pick a lunatic in Sarah Palin to be the vice president. Just think of how be it would have been for all of us if that really happened.

    April 4, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Harriet

    I'm confused. Why are people expecting us to have amnesia in the general and forget that Romney doubled-down on some of the most negative imagery projected by the Republican Party? He tried to appease the Tea Party, he said he would not support the DREAM act, he said he would eliminate Planned Parenthood and defund it, he said he would kill Obamacare which helps people without a "safety net" get health care, he said he was not worried about poor people they have a safety net, and he supports a budget that gives the most wealthy in our nation the largest break in taxes, reduces the corporate tax rate, plus cut those programs that are "safety nets" for the poor! Really, you think we are going to blame ALL of that on Santorum and not attribute it to Mitt. Furthermore, he made major gaffes on Foreign Affairs and comes across as knowing business but NOT government; knowing how to introduce ideas and work with others but his programs are antithetical to the middle class. NO WE WILL NOT Forget. Republican Governors have put forth some of the most egregious initiatives from hindering union representation, to invasive procedures for women desiring and needing to end pregnancies, preventing women from having access to health procedures. He believes and represents a party that is forgetting about major segments of our population. Until the Republican Party broadens their interest in others, why should others consider them. Look at the "make Obama look bad crown!" At our country's expense, they have allowed our credit rating to be cut and our image to become petty. No Republicans, we will not forget!

    April 4, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. CBR

    Senator McCain is a strong advocate of Republican ideals. Unfortunately, he does not do help the situation if he is "badmouthing" Rick Santorum. The fact that Sen. McCain supports Mr. Romney makes his statements less creditable. He is helping to rev up the dialogue which is not a wise move.

    His choice for VP, Mr. Rubio, has stated he will not run. Does the Senator have inside info?

    April 4, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. HeyEugene

    News Flash! the entire Republican Party is irrelevant! Republican = err, elephant

    April 4, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. bigmike

    We all know that McCain is an expert at picking running mates.

    April 4, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. CAL USA

    The Romney image would not have been damaged by the campaign if he had displayed just enough courage to resist pandering to the radicals. He campaigned on a platform of I hate Obama more than anyone else, and now needs to present himself as someone who can be the president for all of us, including the ones who may vote for Obama again. Ain't going to happen, unless the majority of Americans are as gullible and short-memoried as the Republican primary voters.

    April 4, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. ned

    Those who make asinine comments about John McCain (or anyone else) that do nothing to further the dialogue are irrelevant.

    April 4, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. John

    Only a true Christian like Senator Santorum should be President. He is the first God Fearing man that has run in a century. Santorum is a man who lives his life by God's will and will pray each day for guidance from the one and only true source of wisdoom in the world.

    April 4, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. james

    Romney will lose worse than McCain

    April 4, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. Techknowledgy

    The entire GOP Is irrevelant. Where are the jobs? What is the plan besides defeat Obama? I for one am tired of being told the "job creators need tax breaks........" Straight democratic voter this time. The GOP has been taken over by whack jobs.

    April 4, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. DanW

    No, no, Santorum needs to stay in the race. Since he has zero chance of the nomination, the only message he will be bringing is why Republicans should not vote for Romney. Works for me. (Honestly, I've never seen ego trips like Gingrich and Santorum, except maybe Gaddhafi.)

    April 4, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. Cassie

    McCain is a dinosaur, a complete, abject failure. His physical presence is also repulsive.

    What does he have to say that anyone wants to listen to?

    April 4, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. PTBarnumboy

    This guy is not the one to be giving advice on how to run a campaign.

    April 4, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Squigman

    Go away John, and fail to return to the public eye. You sir are irrelevant too.

    April 4, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. qqqqqjim

    Like he needs to listen to McCain on picking a vice president. McCain should be hung out to dry for foisting that looney woman on the American public. All he did was to make Sarah Palin a very rich woman.

    April 4, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  23. qqqqqjim

    Who in their right mind would listen to this buffoon? We all know how smart he was when he picked that looney woman for VP.

    April 4, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  24. Mark1

    Let's see. In 2008 Romney vs McCain was quite bitter. This year Romney vs Gingrich became quite bitter. Now Romney vs Santorum is bitter. I think there is a common thread here.

    April 4, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Isn't it fun watching the republican clowns vie for the dumb, dumber and dumbest awards?

    April 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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