Santorum Accelerates Romney Attacks on Eve of Ill. Primary

Monday, 19 Mar 2012 12:14 PM

By Greg McDonald

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A day ahead of the Illinois primary, Rick Santorum continued his attack on Republican rival Mitt Romney, describing him as little more than a clone of President Barack Obama on the important issues of healthcare and big government.
 
“Unfortunately, we have another candidate in the Republican Party who believes the same things as Barack Obama when it comes to the big issues of the day . . . and government control of your life,” Santorum said Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
 
“Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are the same,” he said. “And that’s what we can’t have in this election.”
 
Speaking confidently about his rise from dead last in the GOP field to become Romney’s main rival for the presidential nomination, Santorum gave credit to his shoestring operation and grass-roots supporters who believe — as he does — that there is too much government interference in people’s lives.
 
That message, he said, is resonating across the country and has helped him win 10 states with little money or organization.
 
“The principle issue I talk about on the campaign is that we are losing our freedom,” Santorum stressed. “We have a government that is getting bigger and bigger and we have a group of elites who think that they can run our lives better than we can run it ourselves.
 
He appeared to lump Romney into that category, saying that, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney pushed government-mandated programs, like his own healthcare reform plan, that are no different from what Obama has done as president.
 
“That’s his record,” Santorum said of Romney. “My record is one of limited government — my record is one of free market healthcare . . . and free market economics.
 
During the interview, Santorum appeared to get a little frustrated at program host Joe Scarborough, who asked whether he had gotten sidetracked on the issue of contraception in the campaign.
 
Santorum accused the media of trying to “pigeonhole” him on the issue, saying his stand against a government rule that religious-affiliated organizations and groups must provide employee insurance coverage for contraceptives was about First Amendment rights and nothing else.
 
“The issue was not contraception; the issue was mandated health insurance,” Santorum said. “That to me is completely on message. The federal government, first off, shouldn't be mandating any kind of health insurance and specifically going after churches, saying they have to do things that are against their principles and faith.”
 
He went on to describe the separation of church and state as “a basic foundational right in this country” that was established 235 years ago.
 
“This president,” he continued, “is rolling over people’s rights.”
 
Santorum was also asked about whether he would “rethink” the U.S. mission in Afghanistan if he were president in light of the recent killings there of civilians for which a U.S. Army sergeant stands accused.
 
Santorum reiterated his view that current policy isn’t working because it contains a well-publicized deadline for withdrawal.
 
“We gave the enemy something we should never give an enemy — and that’s hope, the hope that they can survive through a certain date,” he said.
 
“My feeling is that we should commit ourselves to be successful, but if the president has not committed himself, I don’t see any reason for us to continue to be there,” he added.
 
 
 

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