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Santorum, Romney Trade Barbs Over Each Other's Desperation Santorum, Romney Trade Barbs Over Each Other's Desperation

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum, Romney Trade Barbs Over Each Other's Desperation

Romney says he’s not worried about what Santorum says; Santorum says rival can’t defend his record.

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Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney(AP Photos)

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum competed in separate interviews on Monday to see which candidate could paint their rival as more desperate in the race to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

In the wake of Santorum’s remarks that Romney would be the “worst Republican” to run against President Obama – and a subsequent outburst at New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny during a follow-up question about the remark -- Romney is playing the part of cool, collected front-runner.

 

“I am not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days. I know that when you fall further and further behind, you get a little more animated,” Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Romney argued that there was plenty of enthusiasm for his campaign, paying little attention to Santorum’s repeated charges that he is unfit to run against the president on health care issues because of his own work on a similar law in Massachusetts.

Santorum, for his part, fought charges by Romney’s campaign that he is becoming desperate and pathetic by saying that Romney couldn’t make any other arguments against him.

 

“You talk about desperate and pathetic -- Mitt Romney can’t run on his record,” Santorum told Blitzer. “Here we have the whole world watching what’s going on here in Washington, these Supreme Court arguments, Mitt Romney’s 3,000 miles away.”

Santorum visited the Supreme Court on Monday to decry what he sees as the evils of the Affordable Care Act, but spent most of his time attacking Romney for the Massachusetts health care law.

Romney defended the Massachusetts law on CNN by citing the right of states, not the federal government, to use mandates in legislation. He also decried the cost of the legislation as “absolutely wrong.”

As for comments by senior White House adviser David Plouffe on Sunday calling Romney the “godfather” of the federal health care law, Romney likened Plouffe to a character straight out of fairy tales.

 

“He’s the Rumplestiltskin of the campaign. He’s trying to turn straw into gold, and it's just not going to work for them,” Romney said.

The cavalier attitude might not be working. A Suffolk University poll released on Monday showed Obama leading Romney in a general election matchup by a margin of 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent. Obama leads Santorum by 14 points, Gingrich by 19 points, and Ron Paul by 21 points.

After an uproar over his recent comments about Romney — particularly a suggestion last week that Romney and Obama were so similar that voters might as well stick with the status quo — Santorum found a defender in rival Newt Gingrich.

“All of us occasionally get tired. We all make mistakes," Gingrich said in a separate interview. "When he said it, I said it was wrong, and I disagreed and the next day he took it back and I take him at his word.”

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