Mitchell Reports | March 15, 2012
>>> the fight between rick santorum and mitt romney is getting nasty, with rick santorum calling romney desperate and the romney campaign attacking the former massachusetts governor .
>> we're never going to beat barack obama by ever putting up barack obama lite. and quite frankly , i don't think i'm going to listen to the value judgment of a guy who strapped his own dog on to the roof of his own car and went hurling down the highway.
>> john is a senior strategist for the santorum campaign and the guy who just appeared in that clip. how nice.
>> thank you for sharing that.
>> john, let's talk about it. it looks, certainly, like a -- newt gingrich is still in the race. we'll talk more about that. but it looks like a one-on-one race. is this mentioning of the dog on the roof, this is from 1983 incident, i assume you've been around politics a long time. i assume this wasn't unintentional. is this rightly understood of a ramping up? is this what santorum over romney over the next few months is going to look like?
>> i think to be honest with you, it was governor romney who really ramped up when he said rick santorum is desperate and it ends tonight. unfortunately, they must have been reading the exit polls that everybody else was when they thought he was going to win mississippi and alabama, and it turns out that rick santorum won mississippi and alabama, and i'm sure romney regrets those remarks. but, you know, i think that he has ramped it up. he attacked rick santorum on economics yesterday and so forth. so, clearly, there is a frustration with governor romney right now. this isn't the campaign that they had planned out. this isn't going how it was supposed to go. i think there's some frustration. i think he's lashing out. and, frankly, in some ways, i think it's starting to look un-presidential.
>> not surprising, some of the romney surrogates responded to your mentioning the dog on the roof carrier. jeb bradley , former congressman from new hampshire, had this to say. "to focus on governor romney 's dog, seamus, is shameful." in a time of still-sputtering economic recovery, energy -- i don't want to say crisis, but certainly the future of american energy up for grabs, the american debt that we have, is talking about something that happened almost 30 years ago fair game ?
>> well, two things. let me be clear. i'm more than happy to criticize governor romney on health care , which is very important, and his romney care, that became obama care. i'm very happy to criticize on him his economic record, where massachusetts had the third lowest job increases while he was governor, compared to the rest of the country. you can go down the line. his support of the bailouts and so forth.
>> but why the dog, then?
>> well, again, it was in response to a question where he described rick santorum as desperate and said that his campaign was going to end right then. and i simply said, look, here's a guy who i'm not listening to his judgment, particularly his political judgment, about when anybody's campaign is going to end. you know, look, i'll be honest with you. the question i sit there like every other american and say, what the heck was he thinking, putting the dog on the top of the roof? with that said, that is not going to become the center, core issue of this campaign, nor should it. i think there are huge differences between rick santorum and mitt romney on all these other issues, and i think those should be the focus.
>> you mentioned candidates getting in or out of the race. obviously a huge focus in the last 48 hours on whether newt gingrich should drop out or not. i want to play what he had to say about whether he should drop out and we'll come back and talk about it.
>> when he was winning and i wasn't, i wanted him out.
>> his basic point being, after newt gingrich won south carolina , there was talk he should drop out, rick santorum should drop out. he's going to keep the same line and stay in. look, let's just be blunt. should newt gingrich get out of the race in order to unify conservatives?
>> again, that's a newt gingrich decision. however, what i think you can do is look at this factually about whether he's in or not in. one thing we do know is that when he is in the race, there is some fracturing of the conservative vote. rick santorum gets a much higher percentage of it, but it still takes some away from rick santorum . when this is going to become critical is when you get into areas like wisconsin, where there's some winner take all, or texas where it will be winner take all by congressional districts . you can have people walk in there and two-thirds of them say, i want a conservative candidate, and the moderate, mitt romney , wins the --
>> so given that, quickly, john, given that, why shouldn't rick santorum say, look, this is about about me, it's about the conservative clause. newt gingrich needs to get out.
>> believe me, newt gingrich is a smart guy . newt gingrich doesn't have to be anybody tell him that that's the case. american spectator had a story today. you look at the math, newt gingrich in, helps mitt romney . it's that simple. and so it is not appropriate for us to say to newt gingrich to get out. however, i think the reality that everybody has to understand is, unless we unify behind a single candidate, and when i say everybody, conservative and tea party supporters, it may very well let the minority of our party, the moderates, pick the nominee, mitt romney . and i think that's a disaster. the second thing, i have heard in the last day that gingrich says, this is to help rick santorum . it's not helping rick santorum .
>> john braybender, thank you for your time.