Santorum infers straw poll-rigging at CPAC

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Rick Santorum accused two of his opponents of trying to influence the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Romney came in first place on Saturday with 38 percent and Santorum - typically considered a conservative favorite - took second with 31 percent.

"You know those straw polls, at CPAC," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "For two years Ron Paul has won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, and they come in and vote and they leave. We didn't do that. We don't do that. I don't try to rig straw polls."

He continued: "You'll have to talk to the Romney campaign and [see] how many tickets they bought. We've heard all sorts of things."

Santorum stopped short of accusing his rivals of dirty politics, saying that stacking the deck is "standard procedure for straw polls" and noting that, "there's nothing wrong with that."

"We just don't think that's a good use of our resources," he said. "Governor Romney obviously may have a different idea."

Romney's campaign denied that it had any inappropriate influence on the outcome of the vote and cited their candidate's win in Maine and a separate survey as evidence.

"Rick Santorum has a history of making statements that aren't grounded in the truth," said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul in a statement. "Yesterday Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll and won a separate nationwide survey of conservatives conducted by CPAC organizers. Also, Mitt Romney won the Maine caucuses."

Newt Gingrich came in third on Saturday with 15 percent and Paul came in fourth with 12 percent. Paul's campaign could not be reached immediately for comment.

  • Sarah B. Boxer On Twitter»

    Sarah B. Boxer covers politics for CBS News.

Comments