Santorum: Romney, Huntsman showing 'weakness' in Iowa

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) accused fellow GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman of "weakness" for opting against campaigning aggressively in Iowa.

Santorum took a shot at both the former Massachusetts governor and the former Utah governor, each of whom have avoided the Hawkeye State and spent more of their time in New Hampshire and subsequent primary states.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I think it's a big mistake for any candidate to bypass Iowa. It shows weakness, not strength," said Santorum, who's hoping to contend in Iowa, during an appearance on CNBC.

"If you can't compete in the heartland of America for heartland Republican voters, you're going to have a hard time not just winning the Republican primary, but you're going to have a hard time making the case that you can defeat Barack Obama, that you'll have the energy and enthusiasm behind you that a candidate needs to rally folks to win this election," he said. "So I think it's a big mistake for Gov. Romney, for Gov. Huntsman."

Romney and Huntsman each spent the holiday weekend stumping in New Hampshire, where both hope their message will play a little bit better than with Iowa's voters. Romney enjoys the clear early advantage in the state, with polls showing him ahead with the first-in-the-nation primary state's voters.

Romney still leads in Iowa, too, but by a much narrower margin. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) placed second, and only 1 percent behind Romney, in last month's Iowa Poll, sponsored by the Des Moines Register. But Romney's said he won't participate in next month's influential Ames Straw Poll (or, for that matter, any other straw polls), though he'll participate in a debate there shortly beforehand.

"People want to meet you. They're not going to vote for someone because they see them on television. That's just not the way it works in these early primary states," Santorum said.