Santorum keeps the heat on Romney over healthcare

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is keeping the pressure on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over the healthcare plan he championed as Bay State governor.

A day after Romney officially launched a presidential exploratory committee, Santorum again questioned whether Romney was the right candidate to carry the party's torch against President Obama next year. 

"I really believe ObamaCare is the most important issue in this election," Santorum said during an interview on "Fox and Friends" Tuesday morning. "It is the turning point for our country. We better have a candidate who is out there and very, very strong in opposition to government-run healthcare and focuses on healthcare that centers on you, not on the government.

"That, I think, is a problem for Gov. Romney this time around," Santorum said.

Santorum has proven to be the most willing among the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls to go after the field's presumed frontrunner on healthcare, directly challenging Romney's plan on several occasions in recent months.

The former senator made similar comments in an interview with The Hill earlier this year, suggesting Romney's healthcare plan could disqualify him for the Republican presidential nod in 2012.

Romney critics have dubbed the former governor's healthcare plan "RomneyCare," comparing it to the federal healthcare bill signed into law by Obama last year. The Massachusetts plan also contains a mandate requiring individuals to purchase insurance.

Romney didn't address the controversy in a Web video announcing his exploratory committee Tuesday, instead stressing his business experience and criticizing Obama's handling of the economy. 

The former governor made his announcement as state and national Democrats were using the anniversary of the Massachusetts legislation to remind voters that Romney signed it into law.

- Michael O'Brien contributed to this report.

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