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March 23rd, 2012 By Kevin Osborne | News | Posted In: 2012 Election, Republicans, Tea Party, President Obama

Santorum: Vote for Obama Over Romney?

GOP candidate backs off earlier comment

dopeyduoAssociated Press

Conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is busy today trying to clarify a comment he made Thursday that indicated reelecting President Barack Obama would be better than electing Santorum’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s comment, made in San Antonio, Texas, at the USAA insurance company, drew criticism from Romney, Newt Gingrich and other Republicans.

"You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there," Santorum said in San Antonio. "If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."

Romney quickly fired back about Santorum’s comment.

“I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise,” Romney said. “I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

Not to be left out, Gingrich took to Twitter to join in the symbolic thrashing.

"Rick Santorum is dead wrong.

Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.” Gingrich tweeted.

This morning Santorum’s campaign released a statement that sought to clarify what the candidate meant. (How many times has that phrase had to be used in relation to Santorum in the past few months?)

"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in the prepared statement. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's.”

Santorum added, “I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on health-care mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts.  Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation.  If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation."

Santorum might be correct about the enthusiasm gap over Romney.

A new poll found that more people offer negative than positive assessments of Romney. But, tellingly, this also is the case for Romney’s rivals — Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.

When Americans were asked what one word comes to mind when thinking about Romney, the top responses were “no” or “no way,” and “rich.” After those, the most frequently used words were “flip-flopper,” “idiot” and “arrogant.”

Roughly twice as many respondents gave negative one-word descriptions of Romney rather than positive terms, 30 percent versus 14 percent; just 29 percent used neutral terms.

The most frequently used terms for Santorum, with the exception of “no,” were “crazy,” “too conservative,” “extreme” and “idiot.”

A mere 13 percent of respondents used positive words for Santorum, while 30 percent used negative words and 22 percent used neutral terms.

Words most frequently offered about Gingrich were “old,” “no,” “no way,” “idiot” and “untrustworthy.”

Thirty-nine percent of respondents used negative terms about Gingrich, compared to 10 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

The most frequent descriptions used for Paul were slightly better, but not by much: “no,” “old,” “Libertarian,” “honest” and “crazy.”

Twenty-seven percent of respondents used negative terms to describe Paul, compared to 15 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

The national survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. It surveyed 1,009 adults March 15-18.

Of the respondents, 605 were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 176 who had no landline telephone.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

 
 
 
 
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