Santorum: Brokered convention more likely, hard for rivals to hit ‘magic number’

Republican hopeful Rick Santorum said Monday that the odds of a brokered convention were "increasing" and that he believed it would be difficult for any candidate to reach the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination, during a pair of Monday morning television appearances.

The former Pennsylvania senator was looking to rebound from an embarrassing single-digit showing in Puerto Rico, despite spending two days campaigning in the territory. 

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Still, Santorum said he was optimistic he could prevent former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from earning enough delegates to secure the nomination and then persuade a GOP convention to back his candidacy.

“If the other people stay in the race, it's going to be hard for anyone to get to that magic number," Santorum said in an interview on CBS's "This Morning." "We believe we get to the convention, the convention will nominate a conservative. The convention will not nominate an establishment moderate from Massachusetts."

Santorum is now hoping for a strong showing in Illinois, the next contest on the GOP calendar, although with rivals Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul deciding not to campaign in the state and Santorum's campaign failing to register a full slate of potential delegates, the state should be another win for Romney. A Public Policy Polling survey showed Romney up 15 points in Illinois, with 45 percent support among likely voters to Santorum’s 30 percent.


"This is a tough state; we're being outspent about 10 to 1," Santorum acknowledged on CBS.

Santorum also criticized Romney over the weekend in light of his suggestion that he was an "economic heavyweight" and statement that Santorum couldn't compete with his bona fides or private-sector business experience.

The senator had strong words for his rival, saying the GOP front-runner lacked "a core" and had "been on both sides of every issue over the past 10 years."

"His heavyweight record was 47th out of 50 in job creation … if that's the kind of heavyweight he thinks that we need, then we should probably just stick with President Obama, because he's done just about as good with job creation as Romney has," Santorum said during an interview on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe."

Romney's campaign quickly issued a statement firing back at Santorum.

“Rick Santorum is a Washington insider who is lashing out at Mitt Romney because he was embarrassed in Puerto Rico yesterday," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.  "In 2008, when Sen. Santorum was speaking candidly, he said, ‘if you want a conservative as the nominee of this party, you must vote for Mitt Romney.’ Now, Rick’s changed his tune. This sounds like another case of Rick Santorum abandoning his principles for his own political advantage.”

Santorum also jousted with host Joe Scarborough over whether he had been treated fairly by the news media on the issue of contraception access. Santorum said it was unfair to take instances where he was talking about his personal religious beliefs and suggest they would result in dramatic changes to social policies.

That prompted Scarborough to ask if he thought he was being treated unfairly.

"I have certainly talked about this in the past. You've known me for a long time — do you think I'm trying to pigeonhole you, stereotype you?" Scarborough asked.

"In the fact that you continue to bring it up, yeah, sure — I don't continue to bring this up; this is not the theme of our campaign," Santorum replied.

The senator went on to say that social issues had only become a major issue in the campaign because the government had threatened to infringe on religious freedom by requiring employers — including religiously affiliated institutions — to provide free access to contraception.

"The only reason I've been talking about this issue is in respect to government mandates of people of faith," Santorum said. "That's why this issue continues to be talked about and should continue to be talked about."

Last week, Santorum criticized Fox News for showing what he perceives to be bias toward Romney, and made mention of media bias in his election-night victory speech.