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Santorum on losses: We're beginning the 'second half'

Rick Santorum tried to spin his primary losses in a positive light on Tuesday, saying he's beginning the "second half" of his GOP presidential campaign.

The former Pennsylvania senator spoke after Maryland and Washington. D.C.'s. contests went to his rival Mitt Romney, but before the race was called in Wisconsin — the most competitive primary of the night.

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Romney won that state, too, pushing the former Massachusetts governor past the halfway mark in his quest for the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination.

Santorum spoke in his home state of Pennsylvania and framed the speech around the state, which votes on April 24.

"This isn't the time to sit down and rest," he told supporters. But the former Pennsylvania senator seemed tired and his speech lacked the energy of previous campaign nights. He referenced General George Washington and pulled out a pocket version of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence during his talk to underline the importance of the state. He promised to go out and "fight" for liberty and to hear the "real significant voices of everyday Americans" who have yet to vote.

Santorum suffered an 18-point loss in Pennsylvania in 2006, when he lost his Senate reelection bid.

He has been campaigning hard there the past few weeks and spent the past two primary nights in the state.

Santorum's spokeswoman Alice Stewart downplayed Romney's wins in Maryland and the District of Columbia to CNN before Santorum spoke.

"Every primary night you're going to have some winners and you're going to have some losers," she said, and sought to look forward in the process to the next vote in Pennsylvania. Santorum also mentioned Texas — which votes in late May — in his speech.

A slew of Romney supporters over the past week have suggested that the GOP primary needs to end soon in order to avoid hurting the party in the general election.

Santorum pushed back on the idea, slamming the "elites in society" who think all the important voices have been heard.

"Pennsylvania and half the country have yet to be heard," he said. "We're here to make sure their voices will be heard in the next few months."

Santorum did not mention his competitor's name in the speech, but he referred to him by contrasting himself to other candidates whom he said are not that "different" from President Obama and whose values are written "on an Etch A Sketch." A Romney aide earlier in the month said Romney's campaign could reset before the general election, much like the children's toy.

Santorum went on to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, slamming the Republican establishment for thinking they needed a moderate.

"We don't win by moving to the middle. We win by getting people in the middle to move to us and move this country forward," Santorum continued. "You know me," he told the crowd of Pennsylvanians. "This isn't half time. ... It's time to go out there and fight."