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. Republicans are Neanderthals

    McCain's nomination turned out to be irrelevant so this is one thing he may know something about.

    April 4, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Just waiting for the day we hear about Old Man McPampers finally going bonkers and being found in the Senate men's room drinking toilet water with a curly straw because he thought the blue meant it was raspberry flavor.

    April 4, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Ricardo

    Wow! McCain gives advise on picking Running mate

    April 4, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. J.Crobuzon

    No, seriously. Didn't he die last year?

    April 4, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. jack

    McCain is irrelevant, screaming for bombing Syria and Iran, teaming up with Joe Lieberman, and he will be forever remembered as the guy who brought Sarah Palin into the national spotlight. Good grief, go retire Mr. McCain.

    April 4, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. martin

    Rubio's birth certificate is signed by Fidel Castro. But of course, that;s not the one that they'll show to the public.

    April 4, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Obamajoe

    BLACK OR WOMAN,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,NOT ,,Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

    April 4, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Obamajoe

    McCain's nomination is irrelevant


    April 4, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Big Al

    Santorum-Palin 2012

    Gary Bauer for Secretary of Morals.

    April 4, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. arale norimaki

    to mccain just like palin, michele bachmann,herman cain,donald trump,marco rubio. people with the last name bush,paul ryan,rick perry and so on are irrelevent.

    April 4, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. arale norimaki

    A Cuban on the ballot means nothing to the general population of the
    Hispanic community. Most Latin Americans don't like Cubans

    The same Marco Rubio? That Talks Big but Fails to Deliver?

    Marco Rubio Really Admires Dead Ra cist Jesse Helms.

    So, Marco Rubio is going around calling America "weakened." He blames it on Social Security,
    Medicaid and Medicare.

    spented thousands with GOP credit card

    Marco Rubio born to Cuban exiles? Not true, after all."Marco Rubio Lied About His Cuban Exile Immigrant Background"

    it time to recall this clown

    Before the March 2000 session, Rubio was hardly the scorching conservative who would later woo Tea Partiers nationwide. He said he'd focus on supporting early education and community policing. And he wasn't particularly passionate about cutting spending. In his first three years, he supported adding a $4 surcharge to cruise tickets to fund a Marlins stadium and a $1.2 million earmark to build new bike paths in his district

    April 4, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. JC in Western U.S.

    If Santorum is "irrelevant" what does that make Gingrich? (I'm holding Ron Paul harmless because I don't think he's a Republican).

    In November of 1998, there was a telephone conference call between Newt Gingrich, who was about to resign as Speaker of the House, and some Republican colleagues. Gingrich was trying to explain that he felt he needed to resign. During that conversation he said this: "I spent 40 years of my life getting us here. The idea that I would be the excuse to cannibalize the majority is so sickening I couldn't risk it." Well, now he's been in politics for 54 years. But now, he evidently IS willing to cannibalize the GOP by remaining in the race.

    Personally, I think the GOP candidates have done such an effective job of inciting cannibalism that they won't be able to nominate a candidate who won't continue to be cannibalized. The GOP voters have become so accustomed to eating the red meat thrown at them by their favorite candidate, that they still can't see Romney as Candidate. They don't see Mitt Romney. They see Meat Romney.

    April 4, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. cdonohoe

    McCain is irrelevant.

    April 4, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Mcshannon

    McCain was born in Panama and had no right to run for president and his comments of course are irrevelant he's a foreigner for gosh sake.

    April 4, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. brianna

    All the GOP is irrelevant. I'm voting straight Democrat this November.

    April 4, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. Mike

    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.
    How many million s more will he need to repair his image and which one, every week there was a NEw Mitt Romney running for office... oh th enever ending lies from his mouth surely he will need a Billion to just fix that mess.........

    April 4, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. Mike

    As for Santorum while I don't agree with some of what he says, he has every right to continue running and giving voice to true conservatives out there, not some RINO who needs to come up with new lies each week to win............

    April 4, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    Much as the old loser may want Santorum and Gingrich, nay even R Paul to opt out of the race; he is simply showing his senility. Or an attempt to bring party unity to the fore and the essential need of a longer diatribe/campaign against Obama alone which simply means Republicans see Obama as difficult to beat.
    You know what they are for once correct in that matter.

    April 4, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. augustghost

    The little penguin needs to just shut up and go to a home in the AZ desert

    April 4, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Tex71

    I want to see McCain take his cane to Santorum.
    None of these imbeciles would have come out of the woodwork, though, had it not been for McCain's fateful choice of running mate. Palin set the standard for the quasi-human crop of GOP candidates at whom we shake our heads in disbelief every day.

    April 4, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. TownC

    Santorum is irrelevant and just a plain nuisance now. He needs to go away and let the real race move forward. Mitt will win 2012!!!

    April 4, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. OnTheRoad

    I agree, with McCain when he says "Rick Santorum's presidential bid is "irrelevant" ", but is that not the pot calling the kettle black! I mean McCain has been "IRRELEVANT" for years now!

    April 4, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. Sean

    Being called "irrelevant" by John McCain is like being called "fat" by Chris Christie.

    April 4, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Florida Joe

    Well, one thing McCain is a professional at is being IRRELEVANT.............

    April 4, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Pete/Ark

    McCain has a GREAT track record on picking running mates................................................(snicker)

    April 4, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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