January 16th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Romney: Delegates more important than wins

BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - The morning after his first major primary victory, Republican Mitt Romney downplayed the importance of wins, saying the GOP contest this year was a delegate race.

“I’m not looking for gold stars on my forehead like I was in first grade. I want delegates. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to get delegates,” he said.

“The fact that I came in second in a couple of primaries, I know some people think that’s a devastating thing. Actually, I got delegates,” said the former Massachusetts governor. “And I’m looking to rack up the delegates I need to win the convention.”

The former Massachusetts governor said John McCain was the “clear frontrunner” in South Carolina, and that it would be a big surprise if the Arizona senator failed to win – despite recent polls that show him running just a few points ahead of second-place Mike Huckabee in the state. “This is a state I expect Sen. McCain has pretty well wrapped up,” said Romney.

He also said his campaign – which has spent record sums on television advertising in several early contests – would base its ad decisions on those of his opponents: “if somebody else is spending massively it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put a few drops in that bucket.”

The Romney campaign briefly went dark in South Carolina, as he focused his efforts almost entirely on winning the vote in his home state of Michigan. “I’m going to spend time here to try to strengthen my position,” Romney told reporters in Bluffton, South Carolina, but said Nevada and Florida would also be priorities.

Romney will be spending time later this week in Nevada, whose significant Mormon minority may give him a bit of an edge heading into the Republican caucuses this Saturday, with 31 delegates at stake, not counting the state’s three superdelegates.

- CNN’s Shirley Zilberstein and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Mitt Romney • South Carolina primary
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Jared C.- in Korea

    Romney is only man with the experience, skills, leadership, and morals to get the job done. He has more delegates and popular vote by a huge lead than any other candidate. He will continue to roll and will become the nominee. He is the only one who is competitive in all states and campaigns in all states- not cherry picking. You are the man, Mitt. We support you overseas!

    January 16, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    Brother Mitt appears to have fallen into the belief that you can buy anything in this world for money.

    Now where have I heard that before...?

    January 16, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. David, Dallas Tx

    The consummate spinmeister: they declare where they're at, wherever that may be, to be the winner's place:

    I'm in first place? That's exactly where I need to be. I'll get momentum!

    I'm in second place? That's exactly where I need to be. I'll get delegates!

    I'm in third place? That's exactly where I need to be. It shows I'm a top-tier candidate!

    Give me a break. Everybody knows the winner of early primaries gets a bump in polls that can translate to enough momentum to win. The only candidate who is happy with second place is the candidate who thought they were going to get third.

    There's only one candidate who has the guts to admit his mistakes and weaknesses. He ain't a Repub.

    January 16, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. Mark, Reno, Nevada

    Romney is the only choice for a conservative like myself who opposes amnesty for illegals (unlike McCain) and favors cutting taxes (unlike McCain). Romney is not only a wildly successful businessman, but an ethical person with a wholesome image for our country. Smart, energetic, wholesome, I say it's Romney in '08.

    January 16, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. AJ, Iowa City, IA

    Romney '08!!!!!!!!!

    January 16, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. Don

    Mitt should play Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway. Can he sing?

    January 16, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  7. Romney-Economy

    Economy Romney has the right balance

    McCain Dinosaur Rambo = WAR

    I need a job not a war.

    Hilarious and Bam Bam on the other side cannot seriously be considered.

    January 16, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  8. asher

    This is Romney's problem. Outside of Michigan, Massachusetts and places where he spends a TON of money, his name recognition is not very good. That is going to be a series problem for him in states like Oklahoma, California and NY. Unless you have been following the presidential races, you don't now this guy. McCain on the other hand is a household name. Like him, hate him, you have heard of John McCain. Like him, hate him, you heard of Giuliani.

    Another thing people don't realize is that winning is HUGE. It gives you free national press. But winning Wyoming and winning NH are two different ballgame. When Huckabee won Iowa, he had a week of free press. People all over the U.S. heard about Huckabee and started to formulate an opinion on him. His numbers nationally went from 2% to 22% within a week. McCain wins NH and he received almost a full weeks of national news coverage. His numbers skyrocketed. Think about this. Prior to winning NH, McCain Michigans numbers were sitting at around 9%. Without any organization in Michigan, and very little advertising, his numbers jumped to 30%.

    On the other hand, Romney wins Wyoming. How much coverage did he get? Not even a news cycle. The debate was that night and he got his backside handed to him. He won delegates but 99% of americans outside of Wyoming didn't even realize there was a vote there. Absolutely NO effect on future elections.

    So when it came to Michigan, I am curious if he was going to get a bounce. Looking at the national press articles and listening to the radio, my anwer is probably very little. The reason I come to this assumption was that most of the articles I am seeing is not about Romney "great win", but more on how the field is a little more chaotic/ muddled. Interesting to note, he made the morning news cycle on NPR but the afternoon cycle actually had a piece on McCain and his efforts in SC.

    Most of the news is focusing on SC. This also is not going to come in Romney favor. He may win Nevada but the bit of news will be put on the shelf and the Winner of SC will get the big media boost. Romney problem, he might come in fourth in SC. He will be noted in SC as an also ran.

    One thing to note: the number from Nevada will probably be out before voting closes in SC. I believe there caucus is 9AM. Which means, the results may be brought over the wire around 2 pm SC time. If McCain wins Nevada or comes in a strong 2nd, does this give him a little boost. Curious thing to watch.

    January 16, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. asher

    Another note for Romney fans, your has outspent in each primary caucus, all the other candidates COMBINED. That is not a good sign for future events. He will not be able to do this on super tuesday which means others will dictate his image, not him. The only thing that probably saved him in Michigan is that he did not have to "create" and image of himself. The Romney label was already known which was (I believe) THE reason why he won.

    When Romney is contested in states where he has to define himself, he is having problems (NH and Iowa). The only states he has won is Wyoming, which no one contested him on and Michigan, where he had to spend ALOT more on resources than he ever thought he would have to.

    He may win Nevada (because I don't see anyone contesting him there) but after that he is going to have some serious issues. I think his strategy is going to play ball in areas were the other candidates are not contesting and hoping he can rack up delegates. Not sure if that will work out in the long run.

    Florida for him is the big test. If he competes hard and still can not win, his campaign will start folding after super tuesday.

    January 16, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. Anna

    This is a presidential election... If you watch the media you would think the Republic party is looking for a prom date. The media poses Huckabee as the popular guy (among conservatives), McCain as the rebel, and Romney as the class Valedictorian.

    MY VOTE IS BASED ON THE ISSUES... not the picture the media paints.

    My mom and I both pays attention on the issues and we disagree on a lot of politic issues. My family is pretty liberal although I am a very conservative Republican. MY MOM IS VOTING FOR HILLARY BUT LIKES MCCAIN TOO.

    Based on the issues and what I have seen from the other Rep. candidates... I AM SUPPORTING ROMNEY and it wasn't that hard of a decision.

    The media can spin it anyway they want too but I want the guy who has been at the top of the class in everything he has done to be President.

    January 17, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  11. Cephas

    Sorry guys, that last post was a cut and paste error. It was meant for another blog.

    What drives me nuts is the way this is being reported.


    Whats wrong with this picture. So when MITT comes in 2nd its all about there only being a winner and everyone else is a looser. But when MITT wins all of a sudden McCain gets the lauded 2nd place?!?!?!? Talk about double standard.

    And hardly any menttion at all that Michigan was by far the largest victory with the biggest point spread to date. Mitt beat McCain by almost 10 points and Huckabee was a very distant 3rd. But no mention of that nope!

    January 17, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  12. West Palm Beach

    I just realized...and how could I miss it – this isn't a campaign – it's SURVIVOR – with all the drama to go with it. Where is SNL – Lorne Michaels should jump on this one!

    January 17, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. hmmm...OKLAHOMA

    I believe that the voting system in this country is fatally flawed. Delegates, just as the Electoral College, really serve to rob the majority of American people of what they actually want. Although, often times, the people in both of these electing parties will go with the candidate of their states' choice, they also have the option not cast a vote for their states' decision on a candidate. Yes, they may face possible penalties from the people (ie. not being re-elected), but the damage is still done if their decision translates into either a party nomination or a presidential win. Honestly, I wonder why this isn't reported on more often...the media tends to "over-hype" the importance of the average person's vote in the race, rather than pointing out that no matter the outcome of the race, the American people lose every time. I call the the voting process "rigged for the establishment." Our people don't choose the president, our government does.

    January 17, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Wanda in VA

    I am the principal owner of a business in VA. I am sick of hearing Huckabee talk about CEOs and how no one cares about the workers. He's full of crap. We pay good salaries to our employees, but the cost of living (gas tripling!!!) concerns me greatly. I worry about my staff. Mitt Romney is the only one who has the business sense to bring us out of this mess. If you really listen to him, he has a global knowledge that no one else has. I've heard he is considering pulling in people who are experts such as Jack Welsh to streamline the government. What a novel idea!!!!

    I am also a Christian, but I will vote for anyone before I vote for Huckabee. His and his wife's acceptance of gifts while governor is nauseating. The to sign up for a registry when they left office (Target and Dillards), how tacky. What would he expect as President? People who consider voting for him had better read more about his record. His quips do not entertain me. I want a leader with experience and knowledge. Mitt Romney fits the bill for me.

    January 17, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. charlotte

    I would have thought in Arkansas they would have registered at Wal-mart!

    January 18, 2008 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
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