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. Scott

    Coming from the guy who pushed for the NDAA and cosponsored it.

    In the old USA that was called treason.

    April 4, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. anagram_kid

    FED UP wrote: We are so far away from the government our founding fathers created for us it dosent seem to matter.
    Times change and government and the population must adopt. The founding fathers were men of their age. We no longer live in an agrarian economy where only white land owning men are the primary contributors. The GOP is failing, not just because of evangelicals, but because of anti-intellectuals like you who cannot learn and want to hold everyone back to placate your own ego.

    April 4, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. Jackson

    Rubio as VP would be first in line for the presidency. Where was he born? Will we see a Rubio Birther Movement next?

    April 4, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. sassysticks53

    Ahhhhh, the bi-partisan bile is in full swing! The Mitt hates children consortium is now in session. GOP is scaaaaaary! Lol. Keep eating up what the liberal media is feeding you, while we get American back on track. The Obama experiment has failed! Time to hire someone with EXPERIENCE and a track record of success! Obama had neither and it showed.

    A-HA HA! Running a business and running the country is not the same. Obama is going to walk all over Mr. Etch-A-Sketch! I can hardly wait. I predict that by the time Pres. Obama is finished with Mr. One Percent, he'll win a landslide re-election. You conversatives are counting on bigotry and hate to get Romney over. Is that all you've got?

    April 4, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Emperor Vadik, CA

    I'm not a big fan of Santorum, I think the guys politics are nuts, but saying Santorum is irrelevant to the Republicans is shunning at least 40% of them who are base conservatives.

    Republicans may be a lot of things and I may call them names form time to time, but the reality is that shunning 40% of a group is not a good idea. Whether I agree or disagree with that group.

    April 4, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Santorum should be the perfect republican nominee! He is anti-science, anti-education, anti-choice, anti-health-care, anti-seniors, anti-non-Christians, anti-government (except if imposing Christian values), anti-immigrants, anti-homosexuals, anti-poor, anti-woman, anti- everything that is not an upper-class white Christian men.

    April 4, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Robert G.

    John is ever hopeful that the other candidates will bow out, but like the lobsters in a restaurants holding tank hope is all he has, unfortunately.

    April 4, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. TXJim

    McCain became irrelevant when he picked a serial-quitter to be his running mate in 2008.

    April 4, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. JPX

    This is all so silly. Obviously Romney has the nomination. He could sit back and do nothing for the next few months and he would still have the nomination. None of the other dopes ever stood a chance, espeically one that doesn't believe in evolution and who spends his days talking about religion (i.e. magic and superstition).

    April 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. patrick

    mccain think american will ever forgive or forget how his party ruin our country. they took a surplus economy & a balance budget(4 years in a row) under clinton he stayed silent while they gut our country. now he want to sell us mitt romney & his 5 tax free trust fund sons with their money bank overseas making their captial gain profit paying as little taxes as possible or no tax at all as with romney"s sons and the republican call these people the job creators. ARE WE FOR SALE?

    April 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Guess What

    I dont find it necessary to abide by any of this old rinos lip service, he should have been kicked out years ago

    April 4, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. JPX

    As noted elsewhere, "at this point, do we care which of the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-health care climate deniers gets the nod?"

    April 4, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. thomas

    The Happy Vally Ranch has an opening for retiring Politicians.

    John McCain "irrelevant" .

    April 4, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. WhereIsPalin

    Remember: McCain infected us with the ever mutating Palin virus.

    April 4, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Quercus42

    A relevant GOP candidate would one that understands the root causes of the recession. Right now, all GOP candidates want to go back to Wall Street greed. They're either ashamed or too ignorant to admit that GOP economic ideology caused the Great Recession, just like it caused the Great Depression.

    April 4, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. fpstudio123

    The upcoming states do not have the right demographics for a Santorum win...an overwhelming majority of Evangelicals, high-school only education, union employees, making less than $50K.

    April 4, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. blake

    Of course McCain attacks Santorum. McCain is a RINO. Santorum is a conservative. McCain and his fellow old school RINOs need to be "retired" from public service.

    April 4, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Greg Nelson

    Santorum knows he cannot win this year. His hope is that he can assist in stopping Romney from winning the general election and then he stands a much better chance in 2016. Every dollar he can get Romney to spend on him is a dollar Romney cannot spend to battle Obama. That improves Santorum's chances.

    April 4, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. MC2323

    Yes. Mitt Romney should definitely take advice from John McCain on how to win an election against Barack Obama. More, please!

    April 4, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Aja

    This is hilarious! Mittens has called Moses to attack Prick.

    April 4, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Reggie from LA

    McCain urged him "not to rush to judgment" when picking his running mate.
    Believe me, McCain would know from experience.
    She's still bouncing around, all starry-eyed about being President one day.
    Oh, the day that should happen.

    April 4, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. kcufgop

    This from the person who brought us the irrelevant Sarah Palin.

    April 4, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. lavaughn

    romney only winning because paul and gingrich won't drop out. if both or just gingrich drop out santorum would be winning this primary hands down. which tell me romney don't have a chance in hell against president obama. i wouldn't put it pass romney that he told gingrich to stay in the race so that santorum will stay behind in deligates. what a sore loser!!!!

    April 4, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Tam

    This whole Republican campaign, from the beginning with geniuses like Perry, Palin, and Bachman, to supergenius Santorum, has been the lowest of the lowest. Ugh. And these are to be our leaders?

    April 4, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Just_One

    McCain, its dinosaurs like you that are the reason this nation is in such dire straights; time for you to move back to Arizona and let a new crowd move in to fix your mistakes. Business as usual in Washington needs to end

    April 4, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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