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

Santorum Seeks to Highlight Perceived Obama Failures

GOP hopeful uses State of the Union speech to critique president on wide range of issues.

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
January 24, 2012

STUART, Fla. – Rick Santorum on Tuesday joined the chorus of Republicans using President Obama’s State of the Union address to highlight what they see as the biggest failures of the administration. The former Pennsylvania senator faulted Obama as “the most activist, big-government leftist president that has ever served in this country.”

“You are going to hear a bunch of flowery rhetoric and all this stuff about all the things he has done,” Santorum told a crowd of about 300 at a Treasure Coast Tea Party rally here. “But what he has done? He has grown the tax burden on the American public through 'Obamacare,' through Dodd-Frank, and through other bills. He has grown the size and scale of government to an unprecedented level. He has grown the deficit in this country to absolutely immoral lengths.”

While Santorum is no stranger to harsh criticism of the president on the stump – he often accuses Obama of trying to divide the country with his rhetoric – the list he offered the audience demonstrated the breadth of attacks he has unleashed during the campaign.

 

Obama wasn’t Santorum’s only target. He also sought to draw differences with rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, reminding the audience of their onetime support for individual mandates for health care and a cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gases. But he has also made light of the fact that Gingrich and Romney have been at each other’s throats, giving him a relatively free ride in the state.

“I have to tell you that I should have been selling popcorn for a while because you know, the two candidates are out there going at each other,” he joked about Monday night’s debate, which focused heavily on a squabble between Romney and Gingrich over Romney’s tax returns and Gingrich’s work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Given the chance to weigh in on Romney’s tax returns, which were released on Tuesday morning, Santorum seemed bemused.

“Congratulations to him -- that's a lot of money,” he told reporters at an event in Okeechobee earlier in the day. Though he didn’t take issue with the amount of taxes Romney paid, he added, “When you see my tax return, you will note that I do not have the riches of others in this race” – a clear reference to the wealthy former Massachusetts governor.

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