February 1st, 2012
08:09 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney: Convention or bust

(CNN) - Mitt Romney reiterated his stand Wednesday that a prolonged GOP primary would ultimately help the party's nominee, saying rival candidates had every right to remain in the contest.

Speaking to CNN's Soledad O'Brien the morning after claiming a decisive win in Florida's primary, Romney said he wouldn't mind if the race went all the way to August's Republican National Convention.

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"Each candidate has the right to stay in the race as long as they want to," Romney said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

He added, "I welcome the fact that we're going to be honing our message and battling against the attacks that will come. But I recognize that this is going to be a long road and particularly if Speaker Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul want to go on a long way, I certainly want to go a long way, go to the convention as a winner."

The barrage of negative advertising, characterized Tuesday by a media consultant as the "most negative campaign ever," would not be harmful to the eventual nominee, Romney said. The former Massachusetts governor said the attack spots would continue to be necessary for drawing distinctions between the candidates.

"When we were in South Carolina I was vastly overspent with negative ads attacking me," Romney said. "And we sat back saying a positive message, focused on President Obama, would be just fine. I got beaten there. And we said, well, that doesn't make a lot of sense. So our campaign made sure that we were more pointed on our message and pointing out the differences between me and Speaker Gingrich and our respective records."

Romney has claimed a number of times to have spent less than Gingrich in South Carolina, but figures from Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) indicate otherwise. Romney's campaign spent $1.35 million in South Carolina, while Gingrich's operation spent $414,000, according to CMAG. The two other candidates in the race, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, spent $714,000 and $870,000, respectively.

Super PACs backing Romney and Gingrich also spent millions in South Carolina, but the numbers still favored Romney. Restore our Future, backing the former Massachusetts governor, spent just under $2 million in the Palmetto State, according to CMAG. The Gingrich-backing Winning our Future spent $1.34 million.

In explaining his position on the economy, Romney seemed to offer bait to Democratic and Republican rivals alike.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor," Romney said. "There's a safety net there, and if it needs repair I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the heart of America, the 95% of Americans who are right now struggling."

He explained further: "It's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. You can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich, that's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus. My focus is on middle income Americans."

Romney has long said in his stump speeches that his campaign would focus on the middle class rather than the very poor or rich.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    Romney will appreciate it if Santorum remains in the race to split the conservatives. It is a given Paul will stay in the race, and he will continue to siphon off votes that the anti-Romney forces need. Conservatives in the Republican Party will continue to lose in the primary unless they can rally behind somebody. The whole thing is academic, though. Obama leads Romney by 5 points and leads Gingrich by 13 points in the Rasmussen poll. The Rasmussen poll also shows that Obama has a job approval rating of 51% v. a disapproval rating of 48%.

    February 1, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. Dave

    Romney is far more electable than Gringrich. He also has a record of accomplishment, unlike our current President who was rushed into office without being vetted.

    February 1, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. Gurgi

    Well, it looks like our choice is going to be Romney. I wonder who he will choose for VP. We need him in the white house. He will cause less damage than the current administration has done. He would clinch it with a Romney/Rice ticket.

    February 1, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!


    I won't focus on the wealthy because that's my base and they'll vote for me regardless.

    I won't focus on the very poor because my party plans to make it as difficult as possible for them to vote.

    My focus will be on middle income Americans, where I think I can convince a lot of gullible people they should be OK voting for me even though I pay a lower effective tax rate than them despite earning hundreds of millions more than they'll ever see in a lifetime.

    February 1, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  5. beevee

    So far the only message I heard from Romney's campaign is negative ads against his main rival Gingrich. Hardly any substance in there or a vision for the country. I doubt if this guy understands the middle class amricans. This is very clear when he said his $375000 income last on speaking engagements was not a lot of money which for many americans is a lifetime saving or much more. He may be appealing to the well to do americans because he can show them how to get richer through deceitful business practices.

    February 1, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  6. Sista in DC

    Something about Romney, I just don't like him.

    February 1, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  7. diridi


    February 1, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens has no message other than pandering to the crowd he is speaking to. Flip flopping is a way of life for him, but when he has to choose a position, he will be soundly rejected by the majority of Americans.

    February 1, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Romney's right. A long primary season will serve as a good training camp for this field of political lightweights.

    February 1, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  10. Ed Fl

    Romney might get to be the Presidential candidate but it will end there. He being elected President AIN"T GONNA HAPPEN.America is not going to vote for anyone from the State of Utah that is of the Mormon beliefs.

    February 1, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Ron

    " A Gazillionaire, Flip-Flop, Lier, wins Florida!!! Wow, "How scary is that"???? Just what us independant voters wanted! Obama-Biden 2012 Dem Congress 2012 "Keep up the side-show Repubs, comedy at its best!!!! LOL

    February 1, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  12. youngplaya

    How are the very poor comparable to the very rich? It's a life or death situation for poor people when it comes to healthcare and buying food. What about the working poor, the people who don't qualify for food stamps and work some part time job with no benefits. No one should be entitled to hand outs, but good grief Romney you are like worth 250 Million and you acutally think the very rich and very poor are comparable to the point where you are not concerned. God I hope you don't win.

    February 1, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |