When fourth or fifth is better than third
August 15th, 2011
01:17 PM ET
12 years ago

When fourth or fifth is better than third

(CNN) - If third place finisher Tim Pawlenty is out, why are Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, the fourth and fifth place finishers at the GOP presidential straw poll Saturday in Ames, Iowa still in the race for the White House?

One answer: Size matters.

Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, came into the crucial straw poll with a large, experienced and expensive campaign staff, while Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, and Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and radio talk show host, are running for the Republican presidential nomination on shoestring budgets.

In an interview with this reporter Saturday night, minutes after the results of the straw poll were announced, Santorum described his campaign as "'The Little Engine that Could' campaign. No matter what happens, we're just going to keep plugging away."

And he compared himself to Pawlenty, who finished just over 600 votes ahead of Santorum: "We were in range of three. I mean I felt like here's a guy who spent a million bucks in this and we spent a fraction of that and here we are within a few hundred votes of him and I feel very, very good about that. I feel we're positioned exactly were we want to be."

Cain was equally tough on Pawlenty's effort, telling CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Pawlenty "made a big investment, and he doubled down as we call it, and it didn't pay off."

"We didn't put a million dollars into the straw poll," added Cain. "We spent zero on the TV and we spent zero on the radio, and so this campaign is encouraged and our momentum continues to grow."

GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos says expectations are one reason Pawlenty is gone and Santorum and Cain are still in the hunt for the White House.

"Pawlenty's problem is that he lost, not because he wasn't known but because he was. He had money, time, organization and exposure. If he couldn't make the case with all of that, how could he going forward?"

Castellanos, who was a top media adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and to Romney's 2008 bid for the GOP presidential nomination but is not taking sides in this battle for the Republican nomination, adds that Pawlenty "traveled farther and faster than Cain or Santorum, but he reached the end of his road."

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN.

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Iowa • Rick Santorum • Tim Scott
soundoff (31 Responses)

    Both are to extreme to win in a general election, for now their tea party is catering to the very far right. The BIG QUESTION IS if the media will hold them accountable for the BS we hear from them now, when we get down to the final four teabaggers ?

    August 15, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. wishing

    One more thing the GOP will be doing, even more than they have in the past.
    Purging voter rolls of 'potentially' ineligble voters just before the election;
    Installing fewer voting machines in lower income precincts;
    Flooding phone banks of non-profit organizations offering rides to the polls on election night;
    Passing tough voter registration and voter ID rules between now and 2012;
    Relaxing early voter, absentee voter and military voter rules prior to 2012.
    They will pull out all the stops to defeat President Obama, and the Dems had better countering the above issues (and more) now.

    August 15, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Russ

    The real answer is they are both idiots.

    August 15, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. ex-sarge

    Because T-Paw wasn't in the race to get the nomination. He is gaming the system, geting his name out there and prepping for a VP nod in 2012, or jockeying for a better position to start 2016. Whatever you think of Pawlenty, he ain't stupid.

    August 15, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. al in memphis

    Que the music - Another one bit the dust, hey, hey and another one, another one another one bites he dust

    August 15, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |

    They should follow T-Paw and bow out gracefully. If they think they can get the nomination they're being delusional.

    August 15, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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