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Santorum: Gingrich was on ‘wrong side’ of key Republican issues

Rick Santorum continued his criticism of Newt Gingrich's leadership ability on Sunday, arguing that the former House speaker's record isn't "consistently conservative." 

As Gingrich takes the front-runner's spot only weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, Santorum is convinced that voters will eventually more closely examine the former House leader's record and see that he has been on the "wrong side" of most of the issues backed by the Tea Party and other conservatives. 

"I think people are also going to look at his leadership ability and look at his record and whether what he says he's going to do is actually what he did when he had the opportunity to do it," Santorum said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning. 

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"I think that's where as people start focusing a lot more on those details, he added. "I think that's when we're going to rise and in fact are rising here in Iowa."

The Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator accused Gingrich during Saturday night's debate in Iowa, of straying from his conservative base on issues such as backing an individual mandate on healthcare reform. 

"You strayed on that issue as you have on others," he said.  "The record is important."


Despite Gingrich's growing appeal among the Tea Party, Santorum argued that during his time as Speaker he alienated conservatives, leading to a rebellion within his own party.

"Three years into his speakership there was a conservative revolution to try to get rid of him as Speaker," Santorum said Sunday.  

"That doesn't happen very often where you have the speaker of the House in a time when Republicans are on the ascendancy and the person who led them in large respect to that would have that kind of rebellion within the ranks among conservatives. That should tell you something."

While voters are connecting with Gingrich, Santorum cautioned that it is still very early in the 2012 race and that many conservatives will see that he, in fact, has a stronger record during his time in the Senate from 1994 to 2007. 

Still, he argued that any Republican chance to win the race isn't about dividing the GOP candidates but going after the Democrat in the White House. 

"We need a clean, clear contrast to be about Barack Obama and his record not about the Republicans agreeing with that record," he said. 

"That should be the last thing we're nominating is someone who has a bad record on some of the most important issues that we're going to be dealing with like the bailout of Wall Street, climate change and Obamacare."