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Santorum Slams Romney on Blunt Amendment, Says Gingrich Can’t Win Outside South Santorum Slams Romney on Blunt Amendment, Says Gingrich Can’t Win Ou...

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campaign 2012

Santorum Slams Romney on Blunt Amendment, Says Gingrich Can’t Win Outside South

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, left, says rival Mitt Romney has no ideological heft.(AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday portrayed his chief rival as a candidate without ideological roots and a creature of his handlers after Mitt Romney muddled an answer to a question about whether he supported the Blunt amendment.

Romney at first said he opposed the bill, which would have allowed employers to exclude any insurance benefit that they deem immoral, including contraception. Later in the day, Romney said he had misunderstood the reporter’s question and that he did indeed support the Blunt amendment, which was defeated in the Senate on Thursday.

 

Santorum said he doesn’t believe the former Massachusetts governor’s explanation that he thought the reporter was referring to a proposed state law.

“When Gov. Romney was asked that question his knee-jerk reaction was, ‘No, I can’t be for that.’ And then after his consultants talked to him, he came back and said, ‘Oh I didn’t understand the question.’  Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,” Santorum said.

“I tell you, if I was asked a question like that, my gut reaction would be you stand for the First Amendment. You stand for freedom of religion. A lot will tell you what kind of president you’re going to be when you haven’t been properly briefed by your consultants and you’re asked what’s really going on here,” he said.

 

Romney spokesman Andrea Saul issued a statement in response that said, “Washington insider Sen. Santorum’s ‘gut reaction’ is to ‘take one for the team’ instead of standing up for what he says he believes in. Rick Santorum plays for Team Washington, while Mitt Romney’s team is the American people.” Romney's campaign has charged that Santorum was ideologically suspect for admitting he supported President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education intiative, even though he opposed it, in order to be a team player.

Santorum’s visit to the Peach State also afforded him the opportunity to raise questions about the viability of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s candidacy, which could be siphoning support from Santorum. He told a crowd of about 100 people that they should  help nominate a conservative, even if it meant turning their backs on native son Gingrich, who represented an Atlanta-area district in Congress.

There are “good people in this race, people I admire,” Santorum said of Gingrich. “But this race is narrowing down, and we need the people of Georgia to stand with the conservative to make sure that the Washington establishment doesn’t again give us another moderate Republican who will not motivate our country and who will lose … the general election.”

He later suggested to reporters that Gingrich can’t win outside his base in the South. “He’s not campaigning anywhere else but there,” Santorum said. “You gotta be able to win in states that aren’t your home base. You gotta be able to go out and prove that you are electable other than in your own backyard.”

 

Santorum, who lost his own home state of Pennsylvania in a 2006 bid for reelection to the Senate, said that Romney has similar trouble winning even in places like Michigan, where he had deep family roots.

“We’ll compete in every state and we’re going to do well,” he said. “We’re going to do well in every state. First or second, every state, right?”

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