Ohio Attorney General On Santorum Campaign

Robert Siegel talks to Ohio Attorney General and Rick Santorum supporter Mike DeWine about the results of Super Tuesday.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Joining us now is Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine, who switched his support from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum in the weeks leading up to the Ohio primary. Welcome to the program, once again.

MIKE DEWINE: Good to be back. Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: Now that the results are in, Rick Santorum lost to Mitt Romney by a single percentage point in Ohio. Where does that leave Santorum?

DEWINE: Well, I don't think it was really a great night for Governor Romney. You know, Romney spent 10, $12 million - we'll never know exactly how much - in Ohio in about a two-week period. We've never seen as much money spent as quickly, robo-calls and radio and TV. And Santorum still came within 10,000 votes of winning and won a number of the congressional districts, so, you know, the campaign continues.

SIEGEL: But, you know, there was an old saying I learned as a kid that almost only counts in horseshoes. And in this case, Ohio is supposed to be the kind of place Rick Santorum would win. I mean, he was supposed to do well there. He did well, but he didn't win.

DEWINE: Well, everything's always, you know, it's interesting, expectations. And I don't know that if you ask people who, you know, study politics or you or any of us, what would you expect if somebody spends $12 million and the other guy spends a million dollars in a state, and the guy who's spending the 12 million is the establishment candidate, how do you expect it to come out?

And I think this fact that Santorum came out almost even is very significant. I think it's also interesting, as we break out, where he did well and among what groups. It's clear that Santorum was doing very well with blue collar workers, lower income workers. The people who Governor Romney was doing well with were the upper income individuals. And that does not bode very well, it seems to me, for Romney in the fall.

It makes, I think, a very compelling case that Rick Santorum is going to be a much stronger candidate in the fall to reach out to the Reagan Democrats, the blue collar workers that, frankly, at least in Ohio, are essential for a Republican to carry the state.

SIEGEL: But, you know, expectations are one way of measuring election results and primary results. The harder currency is delegates. And the very fact that Mitt Romney has that kind of money and organization, that he has been able to get delegate slates out on the ballot everywhere, which Rick Santorum has failed to do in several places, all of that...

DEWINE: Well...

SIEGEL: ...makes it very hard to see how Santorum can actually seriously challenge for the nomination at the convention.

DEWINE: I guess I would make a couple arguments maybe to counter the point. One, the calendar is not very favorable for Romney in the immediate future. I mean, we go south. These are not really Romney areas. He's not demonstrated any ability to run very well in the South. The other thing I would say is we talk a lot – and I kind of bought into this early on - about Romney's organization. I will tell you, in Ohio, there was no organization other than money.

You can buy about anything, but there was no ground game. There was no people in the trenches. And I don't know how you win consistently without people on the ground, without enthusiasm. There's simply no enthusiasm behind the Romney campaign. There's none.

SIEGEL: We've been hearing and we've been reporting since the beginning of the primary season that there isn't the kind of excitement over Mitt Romney that the party would like to see behind its leading candidate. But no one seems to beat him consistently. That is, if there's such a lack of enthusiasm, shouldn't that have translated to a Santorum win in at least either Michigan or Ohio?

And so long as that doesn't happen, it would seem that, yeah, there's a lack of enthusiasm for your top delegate here, but nobody has much more enthusiasm.

DEWINE: Well, it did happen in two states yesterday, so, you know, it was not - Romney certainly did not do anything even near a sweep. I think the other thing that's starting to happen is people are figuring out that we're down to two candidates. And I think the fact that while these other candidates may stay in, anybody who's really seriously looking at this thinks it's down to two people at this point.

So I think that is going to play out very well for Santorum. If last night there had been only two names on that ballot, there is no doubt in my mind who would've won. It wouldn't have even been close. And that would've been Santorum. The Ron Paul votes and the Gingrich votes are not going to go to Romney.

SIEGEL: Well, Mike DeWine, thanks a lot for talking with us once again.

DEWINE: Good to be with you again. Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's former U.S. Senator and now Ohio Attorney General and supporter of Rick Santorum, Mike DeWine.

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