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

Santorum Vows To Stay Positive Against Romney

Rick Santorum says he'll stick to the high road as he challenges Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination.(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
February 14, 2012

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Tuesday pledged to run a positive campaign against Mitt Romney as the two candidates go head-to-head in several upcoming contests. But that didn’t stop him from criticizing the former Massachusetts governor in the same breath – an affirmation that staying above the fray could weaken him against a Romney onslaught.

“We’re out talking about what we want to do, and how we’re going to change this country, and how we’re the best person to take on Barack Obama. We’re not there making scurrilous charges,” the former senator from Pennsylvania told the press at a campaign event. But just seconds later, Santorum called Romney “hypocritical” for attacking his use of congressional earmarks to secure money for local projects. Santorum charged that Romney sought earmarks from Congress for his state when he was governor.

“For Governor Romney -- who was doing the same thing at the same time -- to now be critical of me is hypocritical. It’s unfortunate that he’s gotten into that game. Where I disagree with Governor Romney, I lay out my disagreements. But I don’t lay out hypocritical politics for accusing -- going out and lambasting someone for something that I did,” he said.

 

Santorum also said that Romney’s support for a health care law in Massachusetts that became a model for the Obama administration’s plan made him “uniquely disqualified” to claim now that as president he would overturn the Obama’s health care law.

With multiple polls showing Santorum catching up to the front-runner nationally and in Michigan, the Romney campaign is gearing up its attacks, beginning with a series of conference calls on Santorum’s record. And while both candidates have begun running positive spots focusing on their own strengths in Michigan, which will hold its primary on Feb. 28, the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, is planning to spend $640,000 on ads in that state as part a $1.5 million spending spree across the country.

The Romney ad machine helped derail former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign in Iowa and Florida after he threatened Romney’s front-runner status in the polls. Like Santorum, Gingrich promised to run a positive campaign. However, he ended up attacking Romney for his work as the head of the Bain Capital private-equity firm after he was backed into a corner by an onslaught of negativity.

Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said Tuesday that Santorum has run a negative ad against her candidate, but that the Romney campaign has yet to run one against Santorum.

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