April 11th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

Santorum rep: He will help Romney defeat Pres. Obama

Rick Santorum Press Secretary Alice Stewart joins Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien to talk about how Santorum will help Mitt Romney coalesce Republican support and beat President Obama. She also discusses how the heated rhetoric of the primary will affect Romney in the general election.

Stewart says, “He had a nice conversation with Governor Romney yesterday and vowed to do what he could to help, help coalesce conservatives, both social and fiscal conservatives, to rally behind the presumptive nominee which more than likely appears to be Governor Romney because job number one is to defeat Barack Obama in his big government ways.”

She continues, “[Santorum] has vowed to do whatever it is that Governor Romney needs to help him defeat Barack Obama in November because that's important, and whatever he needs him to do, whether it's speaking, acting as surrogate work.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs weekday mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

April 4th, 2012
09:24 AM ET

McCain: Romney's 'unfavorables are high;' Santorum's run is 'irrelevant'

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) discusses yesterday's primaries, including his thoughts on Mitt Romney focusing on the general election campaign.

He also weighs in on potential VP picks, including 'impressive' Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie.

McCain says, “Mitt Romney has already pivoted to the general election campaign, that whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, it's now basically irrelevant, and Mitt has a lot of ground to make up. It's been a very nasty primary. His unfavorables are high. I'm confident that he will do very well. But the fact is that every day that goes by without being in the general election campaign mode is a day lost. He realizes that and I think you're going to see - already you're seeing the opening shots in a very spirited campaign.”

Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien airs weekday mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

March 21st, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Santorum rep: 'Prepared to go the distance;' Santorum campaign is 'a great American story'

This morning on Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, Rick Santorum Communications Director Hogan Gidley spoke about Illinois primary loss and moving forward.

Gidley says, “Louisiana is the halfway point…. We’re prepared to go the distance…. We’ve stretched out our campaign that way. We’ve got a very low burn rate. We’re prepared to go on into the other states.”

When O’Brien asks him what happened in Illinois, he replies, “Illinois is a tailor made state for Mitt Romney. It’s a hugely moderate state…. It’s Obama’s home state. Of course Mitt Romney is going to play well there. We continue to do well amongst conservatives…. What does it say about Mitt Romney to spend $13 for every vote he gets, we spend three. That either makes him a horrible business man or a horrible candidate.”

Gidley adds, “The conservative side of this ballot is being split up by two other people. By Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. So, The fact we’re even competing with Mitt Romney is absolutely amazing at this point. I mean it’s just a great American story.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am on CNN.

March 15th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Puerto Rico rep.: Santorum view on English language adoption for statehood is narrow, limiting; 'it's a non-issue'

On Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D), of Puerto Rico, discusses Rick Santorum's comment about the requirement for Puerto Rico to adopt English as the official language for statehood.

Pierluisi says, “It's incorrect to say that there's a federal law imposing English as the only official language in our states. The Constitution doesn't provide anything along those lines either. And in Puerto Rico, as a matter of fact, we have two official languages, English and Spanish. Santorum's view is narrow and limiting view of what America is all about. English is the predominant language in the U.S. and will continue to be so, whether Puerto Rico becomes a state or not. In Puerto Rico, 90 percent of our parents want their children to become fluent in English. So, it's a non-issue and shouldn't be a factor in determining whether Puerto Rico can join the Union or not.”

Political strategist Hank Sheinkopf offers, “Puerto Rico is not going to be a state. This is not the first time a referendum on the issue. It’s nonbinding. [Pedro Pierluisi is] not a congressman. He’s a resident commissioner. He has no power, the fellow we just saw on television - $25 billion goes out of this country every year to Puerto Rico in transfers and aid. It’s the nuttiest thing you ever heard, it’s a colony.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

March 14th, 2012
10:19 AM ET

Santorum rep. on primary wins and other candidates; Romney as 'Barack Obama light'

Rick Santorum Senior Strategist John Brabender opens up to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien about campaign, other candidates after primary wins in Mississippi and Alabama.

Brabender says, “Yes, I mean, everybody thought I think Romney was going to win Mississippi and everybody thought Gingrich was going to win Alabama and Rick Santorum won both of them coming off the heels of winning Kansas on Saturday. So it's an exciting time for the campaign and I think Rick Santorum said it best that a lot of average Americans are showing people the pollsters don't know as well as they do. And so it was a pretty big upset last night and certainly gives the campaign a tremendous amount of momentum.”

He continues, “Rick Santorum made it very loud and clear that he's not running to be the conservative alternative for Mitt Romney, he’s running to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama…. The belief among conservatives is we're not going to ever beat Barack Obama by just putting up Barack Obama light, and so there is a real path that says if conservatives and Tea Party supporters decide that we are now going to unite behind one candidate, not only will he be the nominee but I strongly believe will beat Barack Obama.”

When O’Brien asks Brabender about Romney saying that Santorum “is at the desperate end of his campaign,” he replies, “I’m not sure I’m going to listen to the value judgment of a guy who strapped his dog on the top of the roof of his car and went hurling down the highway.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

February 29th, 2012
10:13 AM ET

Santorum press sec. on possible Michigan win, robo-calls, Catholic vote

Alice Stewart, national press secretary for the Rick Santorum campaign, talks with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien about Michigan primary, robo-calls and Catholic vote.

Responding to O’Brien’s question about whether or not the robo-calls were a mistake, Stewart says, “Absolutely not. We'll see how the next states play out, but the key is we've always said we need to appeal to conservatives and also Reagan Democrats.”

On the delegate count in Michigan primary, she states, “And there is a good chance we will tie with him in the delegate count, and quite possibly, even surpass him in the delegate count, and that's key. And if that happens, we are clearly the winner in this case. Rick appealed to them as a conservative saying my conservative views and values will help you as a Reagan Democrat.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

February 29th, 2012
09:08 AM ET

Michigan GOP: Robo-calls 'disappointing'

Bobby Schostak, Michigan Republican Party chairman, weighs in on the Rick Santorum campaign robo-calls and Mitt Romney's primary win.

On the robo-calls, Schostak says, “Well, you know, obviously we were disappointed. That's not the way that we want to see Republicans behave. Our voters are, you know, are informed voters. I frankly don't think that it had much of an impact. I think all of the candidates on the Republican ticket ended up getting a few Democrats who showed up to vote. Obama was on the ballot. If they wanted to come and vote in our primary, it was open. They could have voted for Obama. And at the end of the day, yes, it's disappointing. It's not the way we would like to see Republicans in a primary behave.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

February 28th, 2012
10:09 AM ET

Rep. Peter King (R-NY): 'Whispering' of recruiting other GOP candidates, if Romney loses Michigan

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) talks to CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien about potential outcomes for the GOP field if Mitt Romney loses the Michigan primary, including the possibility of other GOP candidates entering the race after Super Tuesday.

King says, "If Romney does not win Michigan it creates real problems for his candidacy. And I think you will then start seeing more activity among the Republican establishment... talking to people like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels....And Rick Santorum has had a lot of negatives over the last week. If he is still able to win Michigan, that shows a real problem that Mitt Romney has."

He adds, "[Additional GOP candidates may] be getting lined up, getting recruited. And they’re trying to get one of them to agree to make the run, let’s say, if Super Tuesday doesn’t turn out better for Romney. I think there’s going to be more of an interest, more of an emphasis, of having someone ready on Super Tuesday if Mitt Romney does not manage to break loose and have that candidate ready to come in. I have no inside knowledge, just whispering and mumbling… among top Republicans who are concerned that Governor Romney has not been able to break loose."

Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

 

February 23rd, 2012
09:21 AM ET

Pres. Obama campaign rep. responds to the GOP debate

Pres. Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter weighs in on the Arizona Republican CNN debate, including infighting between the candidates and Mitt Romney's position on immigration.

Cutter says, “They went at each other on a number of things…. Every one of them on that stage has taken an earmark. Mitt Romney took earmarks, but he’s attacking Rick Santorum for taking earmarks. Rick Santorum has taken earmarks, but he’s attacking Mitt Romney for the same thing. So I think a lot of people are scratching their heads and wondering why aren't we talking about the issues that actually really concern us like jobs and the economy. Mitt Romney only talked about his tax plan that he introduced yesterday once and that was defending himself against Rick Santorum because Rick Santorum said that Mitt Romney was protecting the 1 percent.”

She continues, “Mitt Romney has the most extreme position on immigration of anybody running for president…. He is supporting the Arizona plan, which even other border states don't support because it's the extreme. There's a reason why even the Catholic bishops are against the Arizona plan. There’s a lawsuit there for a reason. I’m sure it will be talked about should he be the nominee in the general election.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

February 23rd, 2012
08:54 AM ET

Soledad O'Brien ask Santorum rep. about inconsistency on earmarks

CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien asks Alice Stewart, Santorum campaign national press secretary, about Santorum’s record and stance on earmarks and Ron Paul's statement that he is "fake” at last night’s Arizona Republican debate on CNN.

Stewart says, “But the truth is when it comes to consistent conservatives on the fiscal issues and when it comes to social issues, there is no one more consistent than Rick Santorum. And he made that case very clearly last night. No amount of ads or rhetoric on the debate stage will change history. And Governor Romney can't say that. He can get up there and say he has been fiscally responsible, but when we have issues like Romneycare that he supported, that he was creator of in Massachusetts, which was the model for Obamacare, that's not fiscally responsible. The Wall Street bailout, that's not fiscally responsible. He is saying one thing and his record reflects something different. What Rick Santorum says today is reflective of what he has done in the past.”

O’Brien responds, “But some of what he says is ‘I regret having voted for that. I wanted to take one for the team.’ So some of what he says is actually saying, ‘I did it against what I believe because there was sort of another agenda there,’ that's what he said last night in the debate.”

Stewart answers, “When he got to Washington and saw the waste, fraud, and abuse that was going on with members of congress, he has taken on the position and is firmly opposed to earmarks and supports the moratorium on earmarks. That is something that he took going to Washington and seeing the waste, fraud and abuse that went on.”

O’Brien adds, “He talked about that in the debate last night. He talked about specific earmarks that he supported. So I will agree to disagree with you on that one this morning.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

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