April 4th, 2012
09:04 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Santorum's 'irrelevant'

(CNN) – The status of Rick Santorum's presidential bid is "irrelevant" following Tuesday's elections, Mitt Romney backer Sen. John McCain said on Wednesday.

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Romney must now pivot to the general election and focus on restoring his image, bruised by the GOP primary fight.

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"Whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, is now basically irrelevant and Mitt has a lot of ground to make up," McCain said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." "I'm confident he can make it up, but every day that goes by that he's not in the general campaign is a day lost."

The senior Arizona senator said Romney's unfavorable ratings are high due to the bitterest primary battle he has observed. McCain said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, pivoted affectively toward President Barack Obama Tuesday night following victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., something he must continue to do given Santorum's bleak delegate outlook.

Santorum vowed once again on Tuesday night to remain in the nomination fight, despite a trailing delegate count and falling national and state wide poll numbers. Romney currently has 648 delegates, well ahead of Santorum's 264, according to a CNN estimate. Romney must win 44% of the remaining delegates to reach 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. Santorum needs to win 79% of the remaining delegates to do the same.

Assuming Romney becomes the nominee, McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate. He predicted a difficult decision for Romney given the potential picks, who he said included Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie,  Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

McCain specifically touted the virtues of nominating Rubio for the No. 2 spot.

"I think obviously Marco Rubio would be one of the prime contenders for a whole variety of reasons, including by the way he's been a very impressive senator during the time he's been in the Senate," McCain said of the freshman tea party favorite.

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 • John McCain • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Johnny nobody

    Or this beauty..... Santorum Palin 2012 and WE get to blame gas prices, wars, corporate greed on their administration for 4 years and THEY are on the HOT SEAT!!!!!!

    Just think what that would do to moblize millions of "just middle of the road folks."

    April 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. jocko

    After McCain's decision making in the 2008 race, how can anyone really care what he has to say? In fact, you might be wise to use him as the Costanza barometer.....whatever he says or thinks, do the opposite.

    April 4, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    McCain had the Alaskan Princess for a running mate. Talk about irrelevant?!?!?!?!?!

    April 4, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. TPF

    So was McCain's campaign after he selected Palin for the ticket~~~~~~

    April 4, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. John

    "I'm confident he can make it up, but every day that goes by that he's not in the general campaign is a day lost."

    Brave words John and necessary. But Mitt cannot ever make it up. If you mean un-doing.

    April 4, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. AgrippaMT

    It's so comical to watch one proven loser advising another and dissing a third one. When the smoke settles, these Republicans should form a special club just for losers. GSBush can be their leader, with his daddy as deputy. All the Republican candidates will be given free membership and seats on the board of directors.

    April 4, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. bzonline123

    Mr. McCain, did you know what were you doing in 2008? Santorum knows what he's doing.

    April 4, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  8. The Left Wing

    Not only is Santorum irrelevant, the entire GOP is making itself irrelevant. John McCain should know, he was a leader in the move to irrelevance. The McCain of 2000 had some courage and thought about things. After being defeated by Bush, he gave in and would say anything to get elected. His pick of Pallin sealed his fate. Romney seems to be on a similar path. I guess McCain can't see what went wrong for him, still supports the mistakes he's made, and will encourage Romney to follow his path to defeat.

    April 5, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  9. Morning1Sun

    What a cruel thing to say tht Rick Santorum is irrelevant. I think he is relevant. At least he speaks from his heart. He is a better man than Romney and I think he should stay in the race. I am an Independant and I would not vote for Romney. He makes me sick to my stomach to think people want him for president. Puke. Paul Ryan is the worst VP to pick. You have got to be kidding. Please we want our Senior citizens to have Medicare and Social Security. They wait all their lives to retire. Give them a break. We have time to invest our money, but our moms and dads deserve their retirement and the money they put into Social Security. Believe me that isn't much. Tax the rich, do something but leave the seniors to their pensions. You know President Obama cares.

    April 5, 2012 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
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