April 4th, 2012
02:52 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum: Romney attacks to fall short in Pennsylvania

Carnegie, Pennsylvania (CNN) - One day after suffering a trio of primary losses, Rick Santorum fired off a political warning shot to Mitt Romney's supporters: essentially saying that negative attacks won't work in his home state and drawing a contrast between Romney and his own "blue collar" appeal.

"We have to win here. And we plan on winning here," the former Pennsylvania senator reiterated to reporters outside a diner in Carnegie on Wednesday.

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"The people in Pennsylvania know me. All of the negative attacks are, I think, going to fall on a lot of deaf ears here. We've got a strong base of support here. And we're going to work very, very hard."

Moments later, without naming his rival, Santorum laid down a contrast between himself and Romney, whose wealth is applauded by some and derided by others.

"You're looking at someone who, you know, knows this area – knows Pennsylvania better than, certainly anybody in this race," Santorum said. "Someone who has the values forged from the values here in Southwestern Pennsylvania."

The candidate continued: "And I think that, when you look at where – the contrast that we can provide in this election – that someone from a blue-collar, working class town in Butler, Pennsylvania, grew up in government housing and who, you know, clawed his way…through the political process, never being anybody's favorite, always being the underdog, always being someone that was discounted. And I think folks in Pennsylvania have, for a long time, admired that story and can relate to that story. And I think they will again in this election."

Santorum spoke to reporters after eating cinnamon raisin bread and other breakfast fare with diners at Bob's Diner.

After losing primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C. to Romney on Tuesday – by large margins, in some cases - Santorum has been dogged with questions over when he may drop out and at what political price he may pay by staying in.

Earlier Wednesday, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain – a Romney supporter - called Santorum's campaign, "irrelevant." Last week, former President George H.W. Bush and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined the voices that have intimated that Santorum concede.

Santorum responded to calls for him to give up.

"I think I've enjoyed about eight months of people saying that," Santorum said. "Everyone has been asking me, from the days I was traveling around in the truck in Iowa, to get out of the race."

"I've never been the party establishment's candidate. And that holds true to today."

The candidate said he feels his shoes are in "pretty good shape" going into his home state of Pennsylvania which primaries on April 24. With some news reports indicating Santorum would consider getting out of the race before the primary if polling showed him on the verge of a loss, the campaign's communications director Hogan Gidley pushed back hard.

"We have no plans to get out of this race prior to the Pennsylvania primary. Zero," Gidley said. "In 2006 Rick Santorum was down in the polls but he didn't change his convictions. It's not about wins and losses for Rick Santorum, it's about fighting for freedom. This campaign is not poll driven."

Meanwhile, a new argument has emerged: that the longer Santorum stays in the race, the more he hurts any future presidential bid – perhaps in 2016.

Might he damage his political future, reporters asked.

"You haven't talked to my wife about next time…The last thing we're thinking about is next time," the candidate said, jokingly.

But given another crack at the question, the candidate was more contemplative.

"All I can say is, we've worked very, very hard to get a strong, principled message out," Santorum said. "And to show the American public who's the best candidate to take on Barack Obama. And, you know, I think we've done a remarkable job and have shown to a lot of conservatives that, really, that is our path."

That path, according to Santorum, is to forge ahead through the upcoming contests on April 24. Those include Pennsylvania, but also Connecticut, Delaware, and New York. Those three states have lower numbers of Christian evangelicals that have recently supported Santorum, and high numbers of moderate Republicans. For those reasons, many political observers believe Connecticut, Delaware and New York will be more favorable to Romney.

However, other upcoming contests could be more favorable to Santorum. For example, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Texas, hold contests in May. All are states with a high number of Christian conservatives.

"May looks very, very good," Santorum told reporters. "There's a move in Texas to make Texas a winner take-all state. You throw those 154 delegates on our pile and all of a sudden, this race becomes a very different race."

CNN's Joe Johns and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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 • Pennsylvania • Rick Santorum
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Rick's behind, yet he's usually smiling. Rmoney is ahead, yet he's usually angry-looking. What's wrong with these pictures?

    April 4, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Valentina

    Santorum will fall short of the win in PA – if he were smart he would end his presidential bid before voters in PA go to the polls on the 24th of April. Santorum's loss in PA will guarantee the end of his political career (or what's left of it) – he will never recover from the embarrassment of that defeat, but, he of course, he will no one but himself to blame.

    April 4, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Delusional Ricky Santorum looks to Etch A Sketch that 18 point loss in Penn.

    April 4, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Santorum spoke to reporters after eating cinnamon raisin bread and other breakfast fare with diners at Bob's Diner.
    -----------------
    Not speaking for Bob's Diner, but raisin bread toast is good stuff for breakfast. Hold the cinnamon, though. Make my toast "french style" with a little butter and either *genuine* Vermont maple syrup or a good marmalade.

    April 4, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. lili

    i hope mitt spends lots of money on ads. Love to see his super pac throw money around. Both these clowns need to keep this circus going for awhile longer. We love it. Obama 2012

    April 4, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. diridi

    You think evangelicals and south would vote for that Mormon....I don't think so, Bain-Capital is known for all....plain and simple...true.

    April 4, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. lyn

    They both live in La-La Land, but at different ends of the spectrum.

    April 4, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. donato

    The republicans should listen to George Will assessment about this year election. Because no American in their right mind can vote for a party that had move so far to the right that one of this day they going to make being poor a crime what a joke this party had become. The republican party stand for the rich and super rich how can these people stand for so many macavellian ideas against they own people.

    April 4, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. lovethe usaorleave

    Hey Rick you have finally got one thing right in this entire campaign. The people in Pennsylvania do know you and we voted you out the last time you ran here and I will bet it happens again.

    April 4, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Brian Dodge

    "Meanwhile, a new argument has emerged: that the longer Santorum stays in the race, the more he hurts any future presidential bid – perhaps in 2016.

    Might he damage his political future...."

    No – he thinks Romney could beat Obama, and then he he wouldn't be able to run in 2016 against his own Republican President. He thinks he might get the nomination away from the "great white nope", but even if he doesn't this year, then he'll win in 2016

    April 4, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Emmy Skaddittle

    didn't he lose his last election in PA, what makes him think they will vote for him this time

    April 4, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Brian Dodge

    as long as he mortally wounds Mitt this year.

    April 4, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Tony

    diridi – do you think evangelicals and the South will vote for Obama, lol. If Mitt gets the nod, they will vote for Mitt everyday over Obama. Dont kid yourself.

    April 4, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    The saying about Pennsylvania is this:' You've got Pittsburg on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in between". Santorum has to perform well in the suburbs to win.

    April 4, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Tony

    The good thing for Mitt is that he doesnt have to run any "negative" ads about Rick's record. The people in Pa know you Rick, thats why you lost in an 18-point landslide last time. Also, stop crying about negative ads. All I ever hear is Mitt talking about Obama, not you. Rick you have no message and all you ever do is complain.

    April 4, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. out of step

    Ricky is the poster child for the kid who was picked on in school, and now has to talk big and act big, to cover his failings. The people of his state have already told him they didn't like his work... or his idea's or his freakish idea's. He is a product of a family who recieved federal aid... and now he is againest others from the same benefits... he needs to just go away.

    April 4, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. Jake

    I feel really bad for ANYONE that has the choice of Romney or Santorum. Sorry, GOP! the clear answer is Obama

    April 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Rob

    Santorum is so sanctimonious about his humble roots–you'd think he has been living in poverty, rather than the truth that he has cashed in by being an overpaid "political consultant" (not a lobbyist, mind you) in DC since he got voted out, making umpteen times any blue collar workers salary for basic influence peddling. Some how his lowly multi-million dollar net worth is more sacred and pure than Romney's multi-million dollar net worth?

    But ’tis a common proof
    That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
    Whereto the climber upward turns his face.
    But when he once attains the upmost round,
    He then unto the ladder turns his back,
    Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees (or praising, if it is politically expedient)
    By which he did ascend
    Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. (with parenthetical editorializing)

    April 4, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Yes, the People in Pennsylvania know you. Does losing the election by 18% remind you of how well they know you? It should.

    April 4, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |