Fresh off victories, Santorum goes on attack against Romney

Following his surprising trifecta of victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Tuesday night, Rick Santorum wasted no time in going hard after presumptive GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

Unable to compete with Romney in ad spending, Santorum took up the fight himself in a series of blistering television appearances on Wednesday morning, in which he referred to Romney as “Mr. Big Government” and accused him of shedding his principles for political gain.

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“Gov. Romney, ‘Mr. Outsider,’ was for government takeover of healthcare, was for government takeover of the private sector in the Wall Street bailout, and was for the government takeover of industry and energy with cap-and-trade,” Santorum said on CNN. “So ‘Mr. Private Sector’ was ‘Mr. Big Government’ when he was out there running.”

Throughout the primary season, Romney has benefited from the notion that he is the most electable Republican candidate to face President Obama in the general election. On Wednesday, Santorum tried to shore up his own credentials and dismissed criticism that his 19-point Senate reelection defeat in 2006, a big year for Democratic gains, suggested he would be a weak general-election candidate.

“A lot of folks lose races,” he said. “What I didn’t lose, unlike Gov. Romney, was my principles. I stood up and fought for what I believed in during a very tough election year, and guess what? Gov. Romney was up for reelection that year too, but his poll numbers were so bad he decided not to run for reelection. I stood for what I believed in.”



Santorum blasted Romney for running as a Washington outsider, alleging that the circumstances that led Romney to leave government were different from how they have been portrayed.


“I ran for the U.S. Senate the same year Mitt Romney ran for the U.S. Senate, and I won,” Santorum said. “It’s not that Gov. Romney didn’t want to be Sen. Romney — he wanted to be Sen. Romney, but he ran as a very liberal Republican in Massachusetts who had just become a Republican, and he lost. He lost badly in a year when Republicans had one of the biggest Republican sweeps in history, when the Republican revolution occurred.”

Romney’s conservative critics say that his nomination would obviate some of their most pertinent arguments against President Obama. Speaking on MSNBC, Santorum directly tied Romney to the president’s policies, in particular the Affordable Care Act healthcare reform legislation.

“Mitt Romney is not the best choice to go up against Barack Obama on the central issue of the day, which is government and taking away our freedoms, our economic freedoms, and as we saw in the case of ObamaCare, our First Amendment rights,” he said. “Unfortunately, Gov. Romney has sided with the Obama administration on three of those most important issues.”

With his earlier victory in Iowa’s caucuses and Tuesday’s wins in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, Santorum is in good shape to distance himself from rival Newt Gingrich and position himself as the conservative alternative to Romney — something many in the GOP electorate have been eagerly searching for this primary season.

Santorum concluded by challenging Romney on his home turf of Michigan, where Romney’s father, George Romney, was once governor, and a state in which Romney still has close ties and expects to perform well.

“We’re heading to Michigan,” Santorum said. “We think Michigan is a great place for us to plant our flag and talk about jobs and opportunities for everybody in America to rise.”

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