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Romney Fires Back at White House, Aims at Santorum Romney Fires Back at White House, Aims at Santorum Romney Fires Back at White House, Aims at Santorum Romney Fires Back at Whit...

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Romney Fires Back at White House, Aims at Santorum

After Tuesday's losses, former Massachusetts governor elaborates on contraception policy while painting rivals as creatures of Washington.

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
February 8, 2012

ATLANTA – As he fended off criticism from the White House, Mitt Romney on Wednesday turned his attention to rival Rick Santorum in the wake of the former Pennsylvania senator’s surprise three-state sweep of primary and caucus victories.

Romney returned fire at President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, who hours earlier said it was ironic that that the former Massachusetts governor was criticizing the president over a ruling that most Catholic institutions must provide contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

Carney said that Romney had a nearly identical policy in place during his time as governor, making him an “odd messenger” for the recent criticism.

 

"Mr. Carney needs to check his history, and that is that that provision was put in Massachusetts before I was governor, and then when I was governor I tried to have it removed in our health care plan,” Romney told reporters. “So in the working on our health care plan I worked very hard to get the legislature to remove all of the mandated coverages, including contraception. So quite clearly, he needs to understand that was a provision that got there before I did, and it was one that I fought to remove.”

Seeking to stop Santorum’s rise -- and continue to blunt the campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- Romney criticized them both as big spenders who had spent too much time in Washington.

“Under Newt Gingrich, earmarks doubled. Rick Santorum was a major earmarker and continues to defend earmarks,” Romney said. “Under Rick Santorum, he voted to raise the debt ceiling, I believe, five different times, to a tune of about an additional $3.5 trillion. I believe that while Senator Santorum was serving in Congress and the Senate, government spending increased by 80 percent.

"Republicans spent too much money, borrowed too much money, earmarked too much, and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have to be held accountable,” Romney added.

He repeated his earlier assertion that he’s the only “guy who hasn’t spent time in Washington,” not mentioning that he unsuccessfully sought to unseat Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994.

Going forward, Romney said, he will continue to draw contrasts with his opponents, but he wrote off the losses on Tuesday as a matter of limiting his efforts in those states -- some of which his campaign argued were little more than beauty contests -- and the long process a nomination is intended to be.

“There will certainly be places where he wins, and there will be places where I win. There's no such thing as coronations in presidential politics. It's meant to be a long process,” Romney said.

He also took a slightly more personal jab at his rivals’ exits from Congress. Arguing that “when Republicans act like Democrats, they lose,” Romney said: “In Newt Gingrich’s case, he had to resign. In Rick Santorum’s case, he lost by the largest margin of any Senate incumbent since 1980.”

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