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. once upon a horse

    if Rick Santorum is a prime example of what true conservatism is supposed to be, then I thank GOD that I'm NOT one of them.

    April 4, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. Maggie

    McCain misses one crucial point in his analysis. Even republicans don't Necessarily like Romney. Hispanics don't like Romney is large numbers because of his self deportation stance on immigration and opposition to the dream act. Women don't necessarily like Romney because he stood with anti women legislation such as the Blunt amendment, which failed miserably but others like it did not. Blacks aren't crazy about Romney . Blue collar workers aren't crazy about Romney because he can't connect with them and would have rather put millions of them out of work in his lack of support for the auto industry-in fact, he thought it was funny that his father displaced so many in Wisconsin years ago. So, who's left?

    April 4, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. max

    I agree...Louisiana Bobby Jindal would make a great running mate...hehehe

    April 4, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. KC Yankee

    Onward Christian soldier!

    April 4, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. KC Yankee

    He needs to pivot for the door.

    April 4, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. ReaganDem

    It's interesting the way McCain and others in the Republican establishment keep trying to push Marc Rubio for VP and it's not because he would make a good VP, they just want him out of the way and damaged before 2016. McCain and everyone else admits that Romeny is damaged goods going into the general due to all of the nonsense Republicans are doing in Washington and across the nation. Romney just can't hit the reset button and pretend nothing happened. He and my party has maligned every single voting group except for white men. If I was Rubio, I would not attached myself to this disaster of a candidate. I would tell the Republican establishment to find another sheep to put out to slaughter.

    April 4, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Larry

    The republican candidates will all stay in as long as they can. This will allow them to collect as much money from Superpacs and individual donors for their personal use later. Romney's in for over 400 million already and he hasn't touched a dime of his own billions yet!

    April 4, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. RAWoD

    The GOP race has been mostly entertaining. These bumbling clowns should make a movie instead of trying to trick We the People into giving the republican party another go at destroying our country.

    April 4, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. Justsayno

    Georgia republican here. The day McCain announced his support of Romney is the day I decided I would never vote for MR. Not that it matters in GA, but I will vote for BHO and continue to support a republican congress. Paul would have my vote if he didn't come across as such a nut.

    April 4, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. TJeff1776

    Well, you could always pick the Grinch. OR would you prefer Santorum that wants to combine Church and State.

    April 4, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. jimbo

    I can not believe that the old man is trying to give advice for the vp after his screw up in the last election. He should pack his bags and move to Alaska with his chick!!

    April 4, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Moderateray

    The definition of irrelevancy from the man who lost the 2008 election!

    April 4, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. ArmyVet

    McCain is irrelevant an old fool who picked Palin in 2008 which proved he has no clue and now we have Palin and can't seem to get rid of her like a bad habit. Romney can focus on the general election all he wants but if he changes his stance on anything ti try be more center he will just show how much a flip flopper he truly is. Besides he has no udea how to govern and wants to protect his own the top 1% at the expense of the middle class. He will loose to Obama and the GOP better to be thrown out of control of the house. Hopefully the citizens of WI will throw out Ryan and his budget plan to screw over the middle class.

    April 4, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I am hoping the Pennsylvania Republicans view Santorum as irrelevant, too.

    April 4, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Freddy

    More like the GOP is irrelevant.

    April 4, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Ron

    Assuming Romney becomes the nominee, McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate. In other words don't be stupid like McCain was in 2008.

    April 4, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. mk1

    Top Republicans want to make him irrelevant because they do not want their true agenda to keep coming to the front. We all know what Republicans do, they run on the economy, then if they gain power double down on social issues. Truly sick people.

    April 4, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. dave

    On another subject, McCain said we need to bomb "whoever" and send troops in "everywhere"

    April 4, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Sniffit

    Well, McPampers sure would know something abotu irrelevance.

    April 4, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Paul would have my vote if he didn't come across as such a nut."

    Anyone want to explain to me how you don't come across as a nut while saying things like "we need to get rid of the Dept. of Education and return to the gold standard"?

    April 4, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. dorothy

    "Assuming Romney becomes the nominee, McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate".

    Say what??? That's real good advice, coming from a stand-up comedian.

    April 4, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. Muldoon in Ohio

    Santorum is burning his political bridges with the attacks on anyone and everyone that seems to stand in his way. Frankly, he is damaging the credibility of the entire republican organization, along with his own. Somehow, he doesn't seem to understand that there are very few Americans that hold his political and social point of view, and fewer still willing to follow him. Hey, maybe he can get a job with the Catholic church when this is all over, and travel the country like Sarah Palin, preaching his anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-healthcare, anti-feminism views.

    April 4, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. v_mag

    I agree that Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul should go. And they should take that alien candidate Romulan-money along with them. The Repugnant's got no game this year.

    April 4, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. MNTaxpayer

    McCain offering advice on selecting a VP? That's like Pete Best giving the Beatle's advice on their careers.

    April 4, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. FED UP

    the problem with the GOP is evangelical extremist have swayed them from what the republican party truely stands for. Fiscal responsibility. The Democrats want to work toward a society where everyone answers to and relies on federal government with absolute authority and power. Mitt Romney cannot beat Barrack Huesein Obama. At this point I'm not sure why the voters even care. We are so far away from the government our founding fathers created for us it dosent seem to matter. This is going to end badly for us either way.

    April 4, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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