Romney Backer Says Santorum Has Lost 'Discipline and Self-Control'

Santorum's outburst means he's not ready to lead, Romney supporter says.

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Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum delivers remarks at the American Israel Political Action Committee AIPAC during its 2012 Policy Conference In Wahington, D.C.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is running his presidential campaign on "ego and emotion," a backer of rival Mitt Romney said on Monday. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu referred to a weekend incident, in which Santorum engaged in a heated exchange with a New York Times reporter.

"Sen. Santorum really has lost his personal discipline and self-control in the process, lashing out at the press and frankly lashing out at his opponents," Sununu told reporters on a conference call.

[See photos of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

After a campaign event in Wisconsin on Sunday, Santorum was repeatedly asked to clarify a portion of his speech, but the candidate got agitated with the questioning.

"Quit distorting our words. If I see it, it's bullshit. Come on man. What are you doing?" Santorum said. "I'm upset when the media distort what I say. Yeah I do get upset. You know exactly what I was saying and you're misrepresenting it. What are you guys in the business of doing, reporting the truth or are you here to try to spin and make news? Stop it."

Romney's campaign jumped on the outburst.

"It is one thing to lose your temper at a New York Times reporter and it's another to have to deal with the pressures of folks on the international stage and even opposing congressional leaders," said Sununu, who served as chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush.

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"You need discipline, you need self-control, you need to be able to handle your messaging and focus on it. You need to have a temperament that makes people want to follow the leader as president and certainly Rick Santorum's outburst in the last few days has in my opinion disqualified him completely," he added.

Also on the call was former Wisconsin State Sen. Ted Kanavas who touted Romney's support for the Badger State's embattled GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

"We have people who have defended this guy – Gov. Walker – in our state. Mitt Romney is one of those people and we have to recognize that," he said. "We have a very strong candidate who is prepared to be president in Gov. Romney and people in Wisconsin will recognize that. They're smart."

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Walker is facing a recall election because of discontent over state budget cuts and curbs on union protections he forced through the legislature.

The on-going Republican primary is wearing on front-runner Romney though, according to a recent poll that shows President Obama leading the former Massachusetts governor by 10 points in a head to head match-up, 47 percent to 37 percent. According to the Suffolk University survey, Obama also leads in face-offs with the other GOP candidates, topping Santorum by 14 points, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by 19 points and Texas Rep. Ron Paul by 21 points.

"The Republican Primary process has been so divisive that frustrated voters are saying that they would rather vote for a third-party candidate than one of the Republicans, which clearly benefits President Obama," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, in a statement.

The nationwide poll surveyed 1,070 likely voters March 21-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

  • Read Romney's Southern Appeal.
  • Check out photos of Obama's re-election campaign.
  • Read New Santorum Ad Links Obama and Ahmadinejad.
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