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. Jimmy

    This from the man who wanted to put Sara Palin a heartbeat from the presidency. He's a good man, with very, very poor judgement.

    April 4, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Jennifer NYC

    That is why he is giving good advice now. He has learned from his stupid experience. He is right and Santorum is very destructive and negative. He needs to leave the race.

    April 4, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Jimm

    I guess McCain could gove advice on how not to to pick a VP.

    April 4, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. James

    Santorum has become the one-man Committee to Elect Obama 2012!!!!

    April 4, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. John

    Hang in there Ricky. I am being thoroughly entertained, watching the GOPers beat the snot out of eachother. Come November the blood will still be flowing after the voters finishing beating the snot out of your party.

    April 4, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. Michael in Houston

    Senator...sit down. You of all people have no business or invitation to give us any of your insights. It was you who attempted to place America, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, within grasp of Sarah Palin. You were careless, reckless, and completely and utterly out of your mind with that decision. You have nothing worth listening to and you should sit down, retire, and keep your thoughts to yourself.

    April 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Johnathan

    talk about a carreer politician. Ineffective too!

    John, time to saddle up on the back 40 and just take care of the fence and cattle in retirement, bud. Way past due for you.

    April 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. cecilia

    maybe if Republicans would stop making so many mistakes, grow up and help manage this Country, they would not have to rebuild their reputations and apologize so often -the Republican Party could use a few good women and men

    April 4, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. DavidInVancouverWA

    If Romney has any brains at all (or rather, if his campaign staff have the brains), he will not put any stock in to Senator McCain's suggestion of a running mate. After all, McCain is responsible for that vile creation also known as Sarah Palin.

    April 4, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. K3Citizen

    Mark Rubio has been in office for less than time Obama, but the GOP criticized Obama's lack of experience. Rubio will be picked because the GOP needs the Hispanic vote. Last time the GOP picked a gimmick running mate (Palin) they lost to Obama. History will repeat itself once again.

    April 4, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Oglethorp

    There too many low IQ conservative brainwashed morons posting on here. You people are so delusional and so Fing dumb there is no longer anything to compare you to. Exchanging comments with you fools is no longer worth the effort. It is like engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent

    April 4, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. the Situation

    Irrelevant! Takes one to know one you old windbag!

    April 4, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Dizzyd

    @Zack – which one of the Three Stooges was 'a successful and businessman'? Maybe it was Shemp.

    April 4, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. FromFlorida

    It is more than time for Santorum to bow out and stop the nonsense. He has lost all credibility in the Republican party and is doing the bidding of Obama by continuing his rants. When Romney saw that McCain was ahead 4 years ago, he did not look for a miracle and accepted the party members wishes by bowing out graciously. At this point, all Santorum can do is bow out and get into oblivion because he has lost all gracefullnes and shows how a sore loser he is. Let him find a job and leave us alone.

    April 4, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    Jimmy, you took the words right out of my mouth, other than the good man thing. He wasn't such a good man to put our country in jeopardy with his VP pick.

    April 4, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Get real

    Coming from the one who lost to Obama I would say McCain is irrevelent.
    If Gingrich would bow out Santorum would be the candidate.
    So why do you think Gincrich is still in the race?

    April 4, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. V in Chicago

    He's been irrelevant since he began his run . . . It just took some this long to see it.

    As a matter of fact, all the Republican's are irrelevant. President Obama will serve another term!

    April 4, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Dizzyd

    Whoops! I forgot to type in 'governor'!

    April 4, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. SPA Knight

    McCain wasn't able to win his party's nomination but he feels like his opinion about Santorum is relevant. Perhaps we should change the leadership of the Senate as well at the next election.

    April 4, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. justaminit

    Well said Jimmy, well said.

    April 4, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. justaminit

    As a Hispanic, I can say without reservation that Rubio is a token. What has he accomplished? Do you think the Hispanic voters are just going to jump on the bandwagon because Rubio is on the ticket? Wait and see.

    April 4, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. glades2

    It's a form of punishment when a nation can no longer find a good leader – Native Americans as far back as the 1800's believed they were given Divine revalation that this would happen to this country, and it has...

    April 4, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Rick in L.A.

    Wouldn't you love to see all these guys locked up in a room with boxing gloves and Sarah in a unitard as the referee?

    April 4, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. GOP = Greed Over People

    I believe the same could be said of the loser, McCrypt.

    What crust calling someone/anyone irrelevant, yes, even Sanitarium!

    April 4, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. ddt

    McCain, you are the only irrelevant indivial in this country

    April 4, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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