February 3rd, 2008
04:20 PM ET
13 years ago

Santorum questions McCain's temperament

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/03/art.mccainsan.gi.jpg caption=" McCain and Santorum clashed over some bills in the Senate."](CNN) - A Romney campaign aide confirms to CNN that former Sen. Rick Santorum, who endorsed Mitt Romney last week, has recorded an automated phone call being used in several Super Tuesday states that directly questions whether rival John McCain has the temperament to be president.

“As a conservative, I don’t agree with McCain on many issues and I don’t think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction,’ Santorum says in the call, according to the Romney source.

Santorum notes that as a senator, he worked hard to stop Democrats and pass a conservative agenda, and “a few senators like John McCain stood in our way.”

In the Senate, Santorum clashed with McCain on several issues that make conservatives skeptical of the Arizona senator – especially his bill to reform campaign finance laws.

Despite that, McCain went to Pennsylvania to campaign for Santorum in his ill-fated 2006 Senate re-election bid – something McCain aides are now quick to point out.

“It raises the question about why Santorum was so anxious to have McCain campaign for him, which McCain did, multiple times,” McCain advisor Steve Schmidt tells CNN.

But as McCain began to rise in the polls and win presidential primaries over the past month, Santorum began aggressively calling conservative radio and engaging with GOP bloggers, calling McCain too liberal to be the Republican nominee.

Get breaking news Super Tuesday results via email. Sign up here

- CNN's Dana Bash

Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. ne,pa

    I honestly think McCain is mentally unstable in part due to being a POW. Nobody can endure 5.5 years of that and not be mentally effected. He's so angry ,arrogant and stubborn and thrives on war...he scares me. He's a walking time bomb. I also think he's showing signs of dementia when he speaks. He constantly repeats himself and is mentally slow in answering questions. I understand only 14% of people his age do not show signs of dementia and he's not one of them for sure. He's too aged to be the most powerful person in the world.

    February 3, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Ann

    UPDATE: John Weaver, McCain's former top strategist and the man who coordinated the Arizonan's efforts on behalf of GOP candidates in the last cycle, writes in with some recollections about how Santorum viewed McCain in the not-so-distant past:

    "Rick Santorum begged for John McCain to campaign for him in 2006. In fact, 'begged' doesn't do it justice. And as a good conservative and party leader, McCain did so. He did multiple events for Santorum, recorded calls and an ad, and raised money for Santorum. When Santorum was begging for John, he never raised a word about any concern about McCain. In fact, he praised him. Perhaps he was desperate then. Perhaps he is desperate now."

    Perhaps Romney's supporters need to check thier past before they say they support him. Santorum is claiming to be completely against McCain...but if you read the above...

    February 3, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Jeff, North Dakota

    Santorum is a war-monger just like McCain and Romney. Just say no to war-mongers.

    February 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Gil - California

    With no real dog in the Republican primaries I just must say that in this picture, it appears as if Santorum is trying out for "The Office"

    February 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. Zane Petty

    Romney is our country's best option. He may not be perfect but he will get the job done. I am a soldier, currently in Iraq and AM NOT for McCain. Just because he was in the military doesn't mean that McCain is the man for the job. Romney wants to increase the size of our military to place our country in a position of strength. Check out Romney's website. He has a legitimate plan for every issue. He is all substance. McCain is a stubborn man who has a bad-temper. He was caught dead in his tracks by Romney on his insistance that Romney's plan was for timetables in Iraq. It was obvious that Romney does not support a timetable for withdrawal. Romney is exactly right, this country is ready for change. Change will not come by keeping the same Washington insiders in power sitting in different chairs!

    February 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Mark

    It is so much fun seeing all these Republicans sniping at each other. I'm more conservative. No, I'm more conservative. No, I am. Are not. Are, too.

    February 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Observer

    When McCain played his dirty politics by lying about Romney prior to the Florida primary, I lost all interest in him. It shows he is willing to do anything to win – including acting without integrity. What will he do in the White House to get people's approval?? But yet he pokes at Romney on issues that pale in comparison to his lying.

    February 3, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    Santorum is a partisan hack that got thrown out of the Senate by his state's electorate in 2006. I don't see how that's a good endorsement for Romney.

    February 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. PAUL

    All these Republican candidates are acting like small children. They are not acting in the tradition of great presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, etc, especially that arrogant upstart Willard Romney. His father was a far better man who stood for his views.

    February 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Paul P. Valtos

    Santorum is an idealogue, a fanatical religious conservative and does not believe in the separation of church and state. He was the one who wanted the state of Pennsylvania to pay for his chidrens private education despite the fact that he was living in Virginia.A conservative crook is still a crook by any measure. A fanatic similar to Toomey who tried to unseat Arlen Specter who is just as screwy despite the fact that once esconced in Washington, they now both work for lobbyist firms out to fleece the American taxpayer. You think Abramoff was bad. There are two of them now taking his place.

    February 3, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Bo

    makes me want to vote for mccain even more.

    February 3, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  12. Carolyn

    The record speaks the truth: McCain/Feingold; McCain/Kennedy, McCain/Lieberman; stem cell research on embryos okay; admitting that he'd need a vp to help him with the economy and then lying about having said it; lying about Romney's stance on troop withdrawals...the list could go on and on.

    Dr. Walid Phares, Lebanese-born American considered an expert on terrorism has now endorsed Romney. Too many are listening to the media and not doing the research needed to find out the truth. Romney has changed position on one major area: abortion. Since his changed belief he has not faltered from his prolife postion. Mitt Romney is WITHOUT DOUBT the conservative candidate and also the most intelligent, experienced, and capable leader of the two.

    February 3, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  13. Kim

    I'm definitly not a fan of Santorum but McCain does have anger issues. Too bad we have seen an outburst lately so we can see what we are really in for.

    Yes, I think Romney is a better choice.

    February 3, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Santorum is one of these guys that thinks getting our troops slaughtered in Iraq is a good idea, especially since he never served in the military. He is what you call a chickenhawk.

    February 3, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Senior Gal

    I'm an Independent. One of my concerns with McCain is my fear that he sticks to a position no matter what. (Like Bush.) Like his position on Iraq. Is it, "my way or the highway" with him? I'm wondering if he's a bit dictatorial. I sure wasn't impressed with his performance against Romney. Seemed mean spirited to me.

    And, being a senior myself, I think is age is not a positive.

    February 3, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  16. CHRISTOPHER

    I think it’s absolutely reprehensible that McCain refers to unwarranted invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq as a “conflict”. I also find it very troubling that instead of the war on “terrorists” he now uses the the term “fundamentalist extremist Islamists”.
    Not every Islamists is extreme nor is every extremist Islamist a terrorist. Any more than fundamentalist Christians all speak in tongues and play with snakes!
    Its seems obvious to me this new vague language is to validate the ongoing occupation and to further broaden the scope and agenda of the Republican party. Using such terms should immediately raise red flags about their intensions.

    Listen closely to what Ron Paul has to say he’s the only honest rational man on the panel,with no hidden agenda or obligations to the corporate/ profit driven war machine.

    February 3, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. John Henry DC

    McCain maintains he really believed that South Carolina should retire the flag. But when confronted with this choice of "lying or losing," McCain later acknowledged he picked "lying." (from his book worth the fighting for and from his unsuccessful bid in 2000) straight from the "Forked Tongue Express"

    and on his temper

    The Republic quickly weighed in with a stinging Sunday editorial that concluded there is "reason to seriously question whether McCain has the temperament, and the political approach and skills, we want in the next president of the United States."

    "McCain often insults people and flies off the handle," The Republic editorialized. "This newspaper has chronicled just some of these unfortunate exhibitions."

    In his 2002 memoir Worth the Fighting For, McCain acknowledged that "my temper has become one of my most frequently discussed attributes."

    "I have one, of course, and its exercise, usually when I am very tired, has caused me to make most of the more serious mistakes of my career," McCain wrote. "It is fair to say that my temper has become legendary." (good thing the presidency doesn't wear people out and make them tired!)

    There you have it. John McAmnesty's own words! of course to hear him talk he must have alzheimers or selective memory.

    If you don't think he can be bought just ask Charles Keating Jr.

    February 3, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  18. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Santorum is absolutely Correct. McCain does not have the temperament or leadership ability to effect change in Government as President.

    February 3, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. TONY - Austin, TX

    McCain is a man of principles...most of which I strongly disagree with.

    I agree with Ann Coulter, if he is the nominee of our party – I will vote for the Democrat this year.

    February 3, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Senator McCain is known for his temper and his way or the highway mentality. We got that now with GW. We don't need four more years of that! We have had enough of the Republicans . Buy any gas lately or checked your health insurance costs lately? Remember back when GW and Mr McCain said that Iraq would be a short lived venture and they would be able to pay for the war with their oil sales? What happened to that?? Anyone seen Vice President Cheney lately ?

    February 3, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. rmax

    it is conduct unbecoming of a former respected officer.....his generations of politics inside the beltway have transformed him to be a veteran politico. His manners and behavior is indicative of a dictatorial type of leadership......my way or the highway!

    February 3, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. jay

    Santorum is a loser if I remember correctly. Please explain why anyone puts weight in his sanctimonious pablum.
    That said, McCain will never, never be elected. He's a one trick pony with his only issue Iraq.

    February 3, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  23. rmax

    Voters need to rationalized NOT what they think is good for them but what is good for the country. Economy is the bedrock of our country, without it, there is no support for military operation. Remember Russia? Military was over spending and the economy was sputtering....we don't want to end like the Russians. We need to maintain our status as the economic powerhouse of this planet earth....So who do you think is good on economy? Dynamics of war have changed, it is now the war of industry--global commercial competition. That is the main war. Think smart.......vote for your future.

    February 3, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. Marleen

    He's old and he's a liar. Look at his snipes (and lies) about Romney.
    GO MITT!!!

    February 3, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. Micah, Canon City, CO

    I'll leave my analysis of Mr. Santorum up to Dan Savage in the Stranger...

    February 3, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
1 2 3 4