CHARLESTON, S.C. – Rick Santorum went on the warpath against Newt Gingrich’s tenure as speaker, echoing attacks Mitt Romney has made that Gingrich was unreliable and “grandiose” while in the House.

When asked during Thursday night's debate about a comment from Gingrich that he should drop out to unite the conservative field against Mitt Romney, the former senator slammed Gingrich. 

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“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich, he handles it very well,” he said, pointing out that he finished ahead of Gingrich in both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

“I was 2-0 heading into South Carolina, and I should drop out?” he asked. “These are not cogent thoughts.”

Gingrich pushed back, arguing that he did have “grandiose thoughts” — and they’d led to supply-side economics and the 1994 Republican takeover of the House.

Santorum continued his attack, complimenting Gingrich for some of his ideas but hitting him for his implementation.


“I served with him. I was there,” he said. “It was an idea a minute. No discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.”

He also pointed out that conservatives revolted against Gingrich just a few years into his speakership.

That attack echoes the arguments many who served with Gingrich have made privately, and former House members who are backing Romney have made publicly.

Santorum has been feisty Thursday night: He’s already struck out at Romney and Gingrich on healthcare, drawing them into an extended debate. He is trailing both candidates in polls of South Carolina.