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Romney campaign says Santorum ‘flunked’ organization test

at 11:00 PM ET, 03/03/2012

DAYTON, Ohio — Mitt Romney’s campaign argued Saturday that chief rival Rick Santorum heads into a series of neck-and-neck contests next week “severely hobbled” because by not filing some necessary paperwork he is ineligible for a sizable chunk of the delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday.
Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, left, and Mitt Romney before the start of a candidate debate in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 22. (Ross D. Franklin - AP)

 Casting a presidential primary campaign as a basic competence exam, a top Romney campaign official said Santorum had “flunked” the test by not qualifying for the Virginia primary ballot and by failing to file for delegates in three of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts and improperly filing in some other districts.

“That basic organizational test that you’re going to have to have to battle President Obama is a test that Rick Santorum and his campaign have flunked,” Romney campaign national counsel Ben Ginsberg told reporters Saturday afternoon on a conference call titled “Santorum’s Delegate Debacle.”


 In Ohio, the possibility exists that Santorum could win the statewide popular vote but fall short behind Romney in the delegate count because he is ineligible to win a full slate of delegates in some congressional districts in the eastern part of the state.

 Nationally, the Romney campaign estimated that Santorum is ineligible for 16 percent of the 391 bound delegates at stake on Super Tuesday. Ginsberg argued that in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, Santorum is all but assured of emerging from next week’s Super Tuesday contests with “a sufficient deficit” to Romney.

“Any realistic hope of closing the gap fades away with his organizational incompetence — that failure to organize,” Ginsberg told reporters.

 Romney campaign officials said Santorum has failed to qualify for a full slate of delegates after Super Tuesday. Santorum did not qualify for the ballot in the District of Columbia, and in Illinois, he did not file complete petitions, meaning he will lose delegates in four congressional districts there.

Romney’s aides are trying to use Santorum’s failure to fully organize in some states to undercut his electability argument, saying that he is unprepared and unfit to face President Obama and his well-oiled campaign machine in the general election.

 “Any one of these issues alone would be a cause for concern, but taken in total they show a campaign that is simply not prepared to take on a Democrat machine that will raise and spend $1 billion dollars,” Romney campaign national political director Rich Beeson wrote in a memorandum to reporters Saturday. “This is the same Obama operation that already has an enormous campaign operation and field staff in place in every target state.”

Speaking to reporters at a subway in Wilmington, Ohio, Santorum defended his campaign against Romney's charges of disorganization.

"I think, if you really look at this campaign, we spent valuable and limited resources back in November and December to get on almost every single ballot when we didn't have money to do anything in Iowa,” Santorum said. “And I think it showed you how confident we were that we were gonna do well that we actually devoted resources out of Iowa to get on ballots across this country.”

Referring to Romney’s early campaign standing, he said, “You know, we weren't in a position where Governor Romney is as a frontrunner... but I'm actually very, very proud of the work that we've done, and I think we're gonna come out of these states tomorrow in good shape with a lot of delegates, and I'm hopeful that we can go in to Alabama and Mississippi with a strong head of steam and hopefully...pick up those states and go from there."

 
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