Posted at 03:12 PM ET, 03/04/2012

Rick Santorum says ‘survivor’ campaign must now narrow to two candidates

MEMPHIS—Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday shrugged off the top new endorsements snagged by opponent Mitt Romney and tightening polls in key Super Tuesday states of Ohio and Tennessee, calling the race for the Republican nomination a battle of “survival.”


Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner at Bowling Green State University, Saturday, in Bowling Green, Ohio. (Eric Gay - AP)
And he hinted that former House speaker Newt Gingrich should exit the race and allow Santorum compete in a head-to-head match up with Romney.

“Ultimately for us to win this race, it’s going to have to narrow down to two. And I think that will happen eventually,” Santorum said, speaking to reporters, outside Corky’s BBQ, a Memphis institution where Santorum ate ribs and potato salad with family and supporters.

On Sunday, two key Congressional leaders from states that vote Tuesday—Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) —endorsed Romney. Santorum said he has not spent time courting endorsements and the nods only prove that Romney is the candidate of the Republican establishment.

“To be honest, I don’t really call a lot of folks and ask for endorsements,” Santorum said. “That’s not the kind of campaign we’re running. We’re running the insurgent campaign. He’s running the insider campaign.”

The former Pennsylvania senator acknowledged that Romney’s
Santorum visits with supporters during a campaign rally in Blue Ash, Ohio, on Saturday. (Eric Gay - AP)
spending advantage has taken “a toll” on his poll numbers leading into Tuesday, but insisted he’s is in the campaign for the long haul.

“This is a game of survival,” he said.

Santorum also called a claim by President Obama on Sunday that “loose talk" of war with Iran by the Republican candidates and others was driving up gas prices “pretty funny.” Santorum said prices are rising because Obama is not opening up American oil resources quickly enough or doing enough to end Iran's belligerency.

“Loose talk of Republicans? The best thing that could happen in the world markets is Iran without a nuclear weapon and a new Iranian regime, neither of which he is doing very much about to make happen,” Santorum said.

By  |  03:12 PM ET, 03/04/2012

 
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