Presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum said fellow Republican Party challenger Mitt Romney is a flawed candidate with too many similarities to Barack Obama on health care, cap-and-trade and government bailouts.
“I feel like I am doing a training run for the general election,” Santorum said today on ABC’s “This Week” program.
“The same issues I’m out there campaigning on against Governor Romney are the same issues I’m going to campaign against Barack Obama on which is, you know, the government overreach in health care, and cap-and-trade, trying to control the manufacturing and energy sector of the economy. And of course, you know, the bailouts. All of these things are -- you know, unfortunately Governor Romney and Barack Obama are in the same place. So that's one of the reasons you are not seeing him close the deal is mandates," Santorum said.
Host Jonathan Karl asked, "Are you saying that there's not much difference between Romney and Obama?"
"On those issues, there clearly isn't," Santorum said. "And as you know, Jonathan, those were the issues that really spurred our victory in 2010 was this idea of government mandates and control of the economy, and you know, the bailouts, and the attempt to try to take over the energy use in our country through cap-and-trade, and of course the successful takeover of the economy, Obamacare. Governor Romney is on the same page as Barack Obama on all of these issues.
"And that's what, again, you see conservatives all across this country rejecting someone who they don't see a difference between this president. We can't be out there nominating someone who gives away the most important issues that conservatives care about in this election when it comes to the economy."
Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, has won 252 delegates so far in this year’s Republican presidential primaries, trailing Romney’s 495 delegates in the contest to face Democrat Obama in the November election. Santorum said he’s won 10 states even though Romney’s campaign has outspent him -- an advantage Romney wouldn’t have in a general election.
Romney is “not going to be able to pound his opponent into the ground,” Santorum said in an interview on CNN today.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is trying to appeal to the Republican Party’s socially conservative base to rebound from primary losses to Santorum last week in Alabama and Mississippi.
In a conference call with Illinois Republican voters last week Romney pointed to his endorsements from conservative Republican leaders, including Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Their backing should “give a pretty good indication that, ‘Perhaps the guy’s OK,’” Romney said of himself. The Illinois primary is this week.
A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll released last weekend showed Romney was backed by 35 percent of likely voters in Illinois and Santorum by 31 percent, within the 4-percentage point margin of error.
The survey, taken before Santorum’s wins in the March 13 Mississippi and Alabama primaries, showed 16 percent of likely Republican voters in Illinois’s March 20 primary were undecided and 46 percent said they might change their minds. It also revealed that Romney is doing better in the suburbs around Chicago, while Santorum holds the advantage outside the state’s largest metropolitan area.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third place in the Republican presidential race, with 131 delegates, according to an Associated Press tally that includes endorsements from party leaders who attend the convention and can vote for anyone. Representative Ron Paul of Texas has 48 delegates.
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