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. Peace

    Oh John! Is that the way you unite the party by calling Santorum's bid "irrelevant"??? Santorum has a good number of supporters. They took their time and energy and voted for him. More are still waiting for their turn to come and vote. Keep on name calling and don't get surprised with the outcome in Nov.

    April 4, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. anagram_kid

    To The Real Tom Paine –
    Spot on as always! The reason the far right fear change is it means they have to learn and compete with those that they are certain are beneath them. They want to go back to the days when being a white Christian male automatically put you at the top of food chain. Those days are gone and they simply cannot compete so they want to change the rules so they don’t have to.

    April 4, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. JR White Bear Lake MN.

    McCain said " Mitt.... don't rush your running mate pick"!!! John baby....look what you came up with.

    April 4, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. steve

    McCains comment that "Mitt has a lot of ground to make up," is code: Romney has a lot of Etch-A-Sketch shaking to do.

    April 4, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. dizzylucy

    Yes, by all means, take VP selection advice from JOHN MCCAIN.

    April 4, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Anne

    John McCain sure knows how to pick them! Who would trust his VP picks after the debaucle of 2008?

    April 4, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Cam Spurgeon

    McCain rushes to the mike to spout his rediculous ideas in the face of obvious. Rubio should be just about as good as Palin. Why doesn this old man go off into the Arizona night and stop trying to make himself more important than he is....

    April 4, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Zack

    The GOP #2 should be someone with a good head on their shoulder because I am not sure if MItt has one. He needs to have someone who is not so far right and choose Huntsman. Overall Barack has done a goodjob, but not enough because he is not god nor white. I think a change is needed in order to get things moving in the right direction economically even though it means voting for a bigot, homopobe and religious tyrant . It is way too polarazing right now, to the point where nothing gets done with the GOP house. We need to fix the economy first then we can worry about social issues. I am an independent and watching GOP candidates is like watching the three stooges but at least one of them was a successful governor and business man. I hope the middle class, gays , atheis and minorities will not lose their rights.

    April 4, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Annother Day in the Idiot Mines

    Funny stuff from McCain. If anyone should know about irrelevance it's the guy who's ignored by his own party for being a moderate once or twice a year. And if anyone should be cautioning about VP picks I guess you can't go wrong with someone who blew that one big time.

    April 4, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Rick Santorum , Personal Trainer and Anger Management counseling Inc .

    April 4, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. DRod

    Mcain is irrelevent. Santorum is irrelevant. Romney is irrelevent. The Republicans are irrelevent. The Tea Potty is irrelevent.

    April 4, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. cptpooppants

    You're irrelevant Mccain you decrepit monkey skeleton!

    April 4, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. cigarman

    Rubio would make a horrible Vice President. Number one, he would have to prove that he was born in the United States, I don`t believe that he can do that. Number Two, he has already lied to the United States about how his parents came to the United States. Number Three, he is an awful person.

    April 4, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Republicans are Neanderthals

    You are irrelevant you old, senile f oo l.

    April 4, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. ty

    the man who picked sara palin as his running mate and then changed virtually ALL of his beliefs to pander to the far right of his party thinks that his advice is relevant? lol lol lol

    April 4, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Brian Dodge

    "McCain said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, pivoted affectively..."

    Would that pivot be a flip, a flop, or just ineffective spin from the Romney camp?

    (and could you teach your reporters the difference between affect and effect?)

    April 4, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. mdesan

    John proudly made that statement at a Romney rally in MA & got most of it all out before his aides came rushing in, whispered into his ear, at which time, he corrected himself "Ohh, yea! I mean Obama!..Obama!"
    "By the way, anybody got a spare pair of Depends? I just cr-pped mine. Whoops!"

    April 4, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Andy

    ..Or maybe you (McCain) are irrelevant. The voters in 2008 seemed to think so.

    April 4, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Geltman

    John McCain is correct. Santorum is irrelevant and should go away. He can join Palin in the wilds of Alaska.

    April 4, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. Geltman

    McCain would have had a better chance in '08 if the soccer mom remained in Wasila where she belongs. He created political pundit Palin and her brood.

    April 4, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Donald "ORANGE JULIUS" Trump

    Super to see that old "War Horse" make friends and influence people – NOT!

    April 4, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Hugganoak

    Yes, McCain is certainly the expert to be giving advice about picking VP running mates.

    April 4, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. J.Crobuzon

    Grampaw McCain is still alive? Is this a joke?

    April 4, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. blilli

    John McCain must think he's the leader of the GOP... but no one else in the party knows it. It's time for him to retire!

    April 4, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. jb

    And we should take his opinion on a VP?

    April 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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