Santorum: 'No pressure' to exit GOP race

Rick Santorum characterized the upcoming Florida primary as the first contest on "neutral turf" and said he felt "no pressure at all" to leave the presidential race after Newt Gingrich's dominating win in the South Carolina primary.

The former Pennsylvania senator also had harsh words for his remaining rivals during an interview Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union".

Of Mitt Romney, still the presumptive Republican front-runner, Santorum noted that "he's lost two of the three contests so far." Santorum added that when he called Newt Gingrich to congratulate him Saturday night, he felt "no pressure at all" to drop out, and that the two said that "it might be a two-person race between the two people on the phone."

ADVERTISEMENT
"I think people now realize Mitt Romney is no longer the inevitable nominee… he's going through the same thing he did last time," Santorum said. "It's not just about how much money you have and how many people you can pay to have help your campaign."

But Santorum also questioned Newt Gingrich's conservative credentials, saying the more voters learned about the former House speaker's policy positions, "the less attractive Newt's going to be."

"I disagree with Newt that he's the conservative standard-bearer," Santorum said. "[…] He's wrong on the Wall Street bailout, wrong on global warming, wrong on the immigration issue."


And while the former senator acknowledged that Florida would be a tough primary to compete in, he characterized the Republican nominating contest as a marathon.

"Florida is a tough state for everyone, it's very, very expensive… [but] we feel like we can go and compete there," Santorum said. "This race is not going to be over in Florida, it's not going to be over I think by Super Tuesday."

He also argued he might be in better position than most think relative to Gingrich.

"Congressman Gingrich's campaign is in a lot of debt, which we are not," Santorum said.

And, Santorum said, he was the better choice for Republicans looking to win pivotal swing states — and would be willing to stay on the attack to argue his case.

"We're going to draw distinctions about who's the best person to win the kind of voters we need to win the states in play in this election," Santorum said.

More in Presidential races

Santorum forms account to test '16 waters

Read more »