Santorum slams Gingrich, defends Ryan

For the second week in a row, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is on the attack against a 2012 GOP rival.    

After former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposed budget over the weekend, Santorum laced into him in a statement Monday, calling it "a big departure from Speaker Gingrich's often sound policy proposals."

"Contrary to what Speaker Gingrich said yesterday, the Ryan plan does not 'suddenly impose' 'radical change,' " said Santorum. "It is a good first step toward positive reform of a program in desperate need of rescue."

Gingrich is under fire from conservatives for comments he made on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend, questioning Ryan's plan.

"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," the former Speaker said of Ryan's proposal. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate." 

Last week, Santorum ripped into Mitt Romney after the former Massachusetts governor offered no apologies for the healthcare plan he supported in that state.

Santorum on Monday also tied Gingrich to Romney in criticizing the former Speaker for comments he made supportive of an individual healthcare mandate, which Gingrich quickly walked back in a Web video posted by his campaign.

"I am completely opposed to the ObamaCare mandate on individuals," Gingrich said in a short Web video released Monday. "I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation. You can see all the things we did to stop it at HealthTransformation.net. I am for the repeal of ObamaCare and I'm against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and, I believe, unconstitutional."