July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum downplayed early polls showing they were behind other rivals in their bids to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama in next year’s election.
“These early polls are not a good indicator of anything,” Pawlenty said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “If they were, Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States. They almost never predict the outcome.”
The first test will be an Iowa straw poll Aug. 13, which is run by the state’s Republican Party to look at the early strength of presidential aspirants. A poll by the Des Moines Register put Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, at 6 percent and Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, at 4 percent. The frontrunners were former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 23 percent and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 22 percent.
“We’re running a little-engine-that-could campaign,” Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to a children’s picture book about a persistent railroad engine. “We’re just out there meeting people, and meeting with activists, in people’s homes, and building relationships, getting people interested in volunteering and helping.”
Pawlenty criticized his fellow Minnesotan, Bachmann, saying she hasn’t accomplished anything during her time in Congress.
“I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her, I respect her,” Pawlenty said.“But her record of accomplishment in Congress is non-existent.”
“We’re not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities,” he said. “We’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that, she hasn’t.”
He also said it “would be difficult” for Romney to win the Republican nomination because of his support of a healthcare program in Massachusetts that’s similar to the one passed by Congress and supported by Obama.
Santorum said his fundraising is “at the low end” because he only chose to get into the race in May and didn’t have his first fundraising event until the last week of June. Romney “has been running for president for four years and he’s the favorite,” Santorum said.
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