Santorum Says Romney’s ‘I Like Being Able to Fire People’ Moment ‘Not a Good Message’ to Voters

Jan 10, 2012 1:33pm

MANCHESTER, NH – Scrappy insurgent Rick Santorum today told ABC News that Mitt Romney’s “I like being able to fire people who provide me services” comment might say something to voters about how the frontrunner sees the world.

“I am not too sure that is a very good message to a lot of folks out there,” Santorum said of the remark. Romney was talking about the ability of consumers to seek a new health insurance company, but coming at the same time that his tenure at Bain Capital is under scrutiny, the remark was easily seized upon by rivals as an example of his participation in leveraged buyouts of companies, resulting in thousands of fired workers.

Santorum said, “it was certainly an inarticulate way of phrasing what he wanted to phrase, but it’s a little bit of a gotcha…I am not going to make a big issue of that, I understand what he meant, we all say things a little left-handily. But obviously the way you say things left-handily can provide some insights on how you actually see things and we’ll let the American public figure that out.”

The former two-term Pennsylvania senator discussed the differences between his blue collar background and Romney’s blue blood, saying he is more likely to appeal to voters in the Rust Belt.

“Look, Governor Romney comes from a different place than I do,” Santorum said. “Obviously you don’t pick the family you are born into, his family is of great service to our country, and have done a lot of good things. But the life experiences are different, and where we come from is different, and I think that a dad of seven kids, who is a son of an immigrant, who grew up in a Steel town, and went to Catholic schools and had the nuns beat my knuckles bare, it is just a different experience that people in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan and Indiana they can relate to a little better than somebody else.”

Santorum said that he wasn’t besmirching Romney – “he has other attributes that he brings to the table that people may be attracted to. But as far as getting the voters that we need and the swing states that we have to win, I think I have a better shot at doing it.”

“Crazy” to Assert Romney Will Be Nominee if he Wins First Three Primaries

Santorum pooh-poohed the idea that this race would be over any time soon. “This race isn’t going to be over in three primaries, we are going to be in here for the long haul, we’ve got a good now strong solid fundraising base, we’ve raised three million dollars in a week, and we feel very strong that that is going to continue on as we eventually take the conservative mantle to oppose Mitt Romney. And I don’t think that is going to happen in a couple of elections.”

Santorum said that pundits are wrong that the race for the GOP nomination will be over this month if Romney pulls a hat trick and wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“I hear this all the time, ‘Well if he wins two or three primaries, then he’s going to be the nominee’,” Santorum said. “That is just crazy.”

Santorum asserted that “the American public and the Republican party and conservatives obviously have some grave concerns about him and his electability, and his ability to do the job as president.”

He said as president, he “would stand up and face these problems and have a record to show that I am willing to fight the fight. And Governor Romney has no record of that as governor of Massachusetts, and you know we’ve got a very strong record, and I think that is going to be very attractive to people when this race gets to be a two person race.”

Hopes to Beat Huntsman and/or Gingrich in New Hampshire

Santorum set expectations at, shall we say, not unachievable levels Tuesday. Visiting a voting locale at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester this morning, he told ABC News he needed to finish “in the pack somewhere.”

“It would be great to be in double digits, and a good distance from Rick Perry, it would be a good place to be,” he said. “‘Cause if you remember going in to this we were tied with Rick, basically, within two or three percent, he was two I was three, something like that.”

More recent polls show him “creeping up in to the Double Digit Land, and looking over the shoulder of (Jon) Huntsman and (Newt) Gingrich, who have the Union Leader endorsement, and Jon Huntsman has been here and spent millions and millions and millions. So if we can be in the pack and maybe even clip one or two of them that would be awesome.” The former senator said crowds in New Hampshire had been “very big, enthusiastic” and to him “confirmed the fact that our momentum is real, and that we’ve got real support here.”

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