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Santorum Attacks Former Pal Gingrich Santorum Attacks Former Pal Gingrich

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Attacks Former Pal Gingrich

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Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a town hall meeting, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, in Sun City, S.C.(DAVID GOLDMAN/AP)

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Newt Gingrich, who is breaking out of the pack as the conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney in South Carolina, came under attack on Friday from an old friend and colleague in Congress: former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Santorum had largely avoided political attacks against Gingrich, whom he once considered a political mentor. But on Friday, the gloves came off as Santorum took the former House speaker to task for being insufficiently conservative on climate change, free markets, and health care.

 

“Conservative alternatives don’t go out and attack the capitalist system as he has done. Conservative alternatives don’t promote global warming, don’t argue for individual mandates for the federal government on health care,” Santorum told reporters before a town hall meeting here.

He also hit Gingrich on his tumultuous House leadership, contrasting it with his own time in the leadership of the Senate.

“When I was in the leadership of the United States Senate, conservatives came to me to get things done in Washington. When Newt was in the leadership in the United States House as speaker, three years into his term, conservatives tried to throw him out,” Santorum said. “If you’re looking for the conservative alternative, look for the person who has a conservative record.”

 

He added that Gingrich has never run a statewide race or demonstrated his ability to appeal to swing-state voters.

Santorum's remarks make clear that he increasingly sees Gingrich, rather than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as the main obstacle in his path to become the conservative alternative to front-runner Romney in the state’s upcoming primary on Jan. 21. The former Massachusetts governor is viewed by many conservatives as too moderate and too prone to flip-flop on issues, like abortion rights and health care.

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