In Alabama, Santorum Dismisses Delegate Math, Attacks Romney and Obama

Mar 9, 2012 3:41pm
ap rick santorum speech nt 120306 wblog In Alabama, Santorum Dismisses Delegate Math, Attacks Romney and Obama

(Image Credit: Eric Gay/AP Photo)

MOBILE, Ala. – Rick Santorum may be behind Mitt Romney in the delegate count, but on Friday he said none of it matters if he wins “election after election.”

Citing the “grass-roots” level of his organization, Santorum told reporters after a speech at the USS Alabama complex here, “Look, we are breaking all the rules and folks who like to play by the establishment rules, they just feel really nervous about us.”

Adding that in December he was “sitting at two percent,” he suggested the naysayers would call it “an act of God for Rick Santorum to be here in March … well, here I am.”

The “act of God” reference is a jab to the Romney camp, who told reporters this week that only divine intervention would make it possible for the former Pennsylvania senator or Newt Gingrich to get the nomination.

Santorum also made it clear he will be closely watching whether Romney is awarded all of the delegates in Florida and Arizona, despite Republican National Committee warnings that they would be doled out proportionally. Those states traditionally award delegates on a winner-takes-all basis, but because they moved their primaries up, the rules changed.

“This idea that Mitt Romney is going to get 50 delegates out of Florida, that’s just simply false,” Santorum said.

Santorum suggested the race would soon be down to just him and the former Massachusetts governor and that Gingrich may exit the race soon, or as he called them to one voter he met today: “Newt and the chameleon.”

“We go out there and we start winning elections, and we get this race down to two, and we win election after election after election, we are going to be the nominee,” Santorum said.

In response to Santorum’s criticisms, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote in an email to ABC News,  ”Washington insider Rick Santorum is lashing out at Mitt Romney because he can’t accept the fact that it’s nearly impossible for him to win the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. Four years ago, when he was speaking candidly, he said Mitt Romney would ‘stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear.’”

Santorum’s criticisms were not confined to his Republican rivals. During his speech here to a crowd of about 100 people standing in front of retired jets, Santorum railed at the president, using rhetoric even more heated than usual, saying Obama “turned his back” on Israel and “doesn’t stand up” for the military.

This week the president signaled he would be open to talks with Iran to try and stop them from developing nuclear weapons, an approach Santorum called “weakness in the face of hostility.”

“[I]n the face of President Netanyahu coming here asking him, imploring the American people to stand by her …  the president announced they would start talks with the Iranian government in clear violation, I may add, of U.N. resolutions that say, No talks could start until Iran ceases their nuclear production. But the president, after the pleadings of the prime minister of a country that has been targeted for annihilation by these radical Islamists, the very next day announces … we will negotiate without precondition.”  (Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, not the President. Santorum quickly corrected himself.)

To cheers from the crowd gathered on a rainy day in a setting tailor-made for the speech, Santorum said, “This is an administration that apologizes anytime the American military does something that may offend the sensibilities of people whose sensibilities are easily offended, and yet doesn’t stand up for our men and women in uniform as they are fragged, as they are attacked by mobs in Afghanistan,” Santorum said, referring to the apology the administration gave when copies of the Koran were accidentally burned by the military in Afghanistan, sparking riots there.

He continued his assault on the president, going so far as to say Obama “has trouble telling the American public the difference between good and evil.”

“If he has trouble looking in the eyes of the American people and telling them the truth about a nuclear Iran, then we have a president who is probably the greatest antithesis to Ronald Reagan that this country has ever seen,” Santorum said. “Reagan had the courage to do what America’s always done, speak in terms of right and wrong.”

He told reporters here he would continue to talk about national security and energy over social issues, even in the socially conservative South. The press, he added, tends to focus on social issues over security and energy. The latter, he added, are areas of “strength for me … so we are going to talk about it more.”

Alabama’s primary, as well as Mississippi’s, are on Tuesday, and Santorum is hoping to deliver a knockout punch to Gingrich with twin victories. This is a region still affected by the 2010 oil spill and Santorum was asked if, in states that still have “bad memories” of the incident, if offshore drilling was truly the best option.

“It is the best option, it is a better option than receiving oil from places in the world that are going to turn around and then use it to attack us and use it to kill our men and women in uniform,” Santorum said. “I think creating jobs here, creating opportunities for people to become prosperous as a result of this and to have more energy security and lower energy prices is a clear benefit to the region and to the country.” Santorum will also campaign in Kansas on Friday, ahead of their caucuses Saturday.

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