Rick Santorum Brings His Campaign To Puerto Rico, Says Republican Voters are Telling Romney ‘No’

Mar 14, 2012 9:06pm

SAN JUAN, P.R. – After victories in Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday evening, Rick Santorum arrived in Puerto Rico, a territory that has 23 delegates in a race that has become a hunt for them.

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno has already endorsed Mitt Romney, but he is a personal friend of the former Pennsylvania senator. While Santorum was serving in the Senate, Fortuno was the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, representing the territory in Washington, D.C. They also attended the same church.

Fortuno met Santorum’s plane at 3 a.m. Wednesday, when Santorum arrived from his primary night rally in Lafayette, La.

Later in the day, standing outside the governor’s mansion  in the Old San Juan neighborhood surrounded by reporters from the island and the mainland, Santorum said he understood the early backing because “the establishment across America lined up behind Governor Romney very early on, and I certainly respect that.”

Santorum, who had met with the governor inside the mansion, touted his ties to the island, telling reporters, “I was referred to by many in my state as Senadore Puertorriqueno. They used to make fun of me, ‘Why are you representing Puerto Rico?’ ‘Well, someone has to because they don’t have a voice.’…I felt a responsibility to the island.” Puerto Rico was ceded to the U.S. in 1898 after 400 years of Spanish colonial rule, and in 1917 Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship.

Santorum said he was surprised at last night’s victories, calling them “stunning” given the amount he was outspent in both states by Romney and his superPAC. As a candidate, Santorum rarely admits surprise.

“We scratched and clawed,” Santorum said. “We went out and talked about what America can be and should be and just talked about issues people talk about, and that’s why we are here in Puerto Rico.”

Santorum said it was only a matter of time until it’s clear the former Massachusetts governor will not be the nominee and Santorum will be. He said Republican voters are telling Romney, “no.”

“Republican voters are overwhelmingly saying no, this man is not the right guy. This other guy, this guy who is scratching and clawing, who is doing amazing things with limited resources because he’s–he’s connecting with voters, he’s got a strong commitment to being authentic and truthful with the American public.”

The candidate again declined to call for Newt Gingrich’s exit, even as the former speaker of the House’s path to the nomination seems almost impossible when he couldn’t win Southern states outside his home state of Georgia. He came in second to Santorum in both Alabama and Mississippi.

“Can I just refer you to the 50 other answers I’ve given on this?” Santorum answered when asked if he thought it was time for Gingrich to end his campaign. “I didn’t ask Newt Gingrich to get into this race, I’m not going to ask him to get out of this race.”

“I think you’ve seen, I just went into his backyard and we won,” Santorum said, referring to Gingrich. “Could we have won by more? Probably, but we still won. The idea that Congressman Gingrich is stopping me from being able to win, well, I won Kansas by 50 percent of the vote. I think we are going to do exceptionally well in Missouri, I think we are going to do exceptionally well in Louisiana, I think we will do exceptionally well in Wisconsin.” Romney travels to Puerto Rico at the end of this week to campaign on the island Friday.

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