As Santorum's adversaries in the GOP field - particularly former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry - have attacked front-runner Mitt Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, Santorum has taken a pass, repeatedly saying he would not attack the capitalist system.
Then today, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania struck the theme that his background and upbringing make him more appealing to the parts of the country hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Those areas of the country, Santorum added, are swing states up for grabs in the general election.
"You want to win this election?" Santorum said to a crowd at Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville. "Then we've got to go to the states where you win the election, and it's Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin.
"I respect Mitt Romney's career in business, but the grandson of a coal miner who grew up in public housing in a steel town in Western Pennsylvania and whose policies are oriented toward helping those [people] . . . has a much better chance of winning those states than an executive from Bain Capital."
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Friday that the results of the Republican caucuses in Iowa have "not yet been decided" and that he could still be declared the winner in the January 3 contest that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won by just eight votes.
At a campaign stop in Rock Hill, Santorum said, "Iowa has not yet been decided. The idea that Mitt Romney has won Iowa is still very much an open question that will be decided in two weeks as they go through the certification of those numbers and those numbers are changing.Continue »
ROCK HILL, S.C. - With Newt Gingrich breaking out of the pack as the conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney in South Carolina, he came under attack Friday from an old friend and colleague in Congress, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Santorum had largely avoided political attacks against Gingrich, whom he once considered a political mentor. But on Friday, the glove came off as Santorum took the former House speaker to task for being insufficiently conservative on climate change, free markets and health care.
"Conservative alternatives don't go out and attack the capitalist system as he has done. Conservative alternatives don't promote global warming, don't argue for individual mandates for the federal government on health care," Santorum told reporters before a town hall meeting in Rock Hill.Continue »
"I've known for a long time that New Hampshire is full of tough questions. People up here take their politics very seriously and they study the issues very carefully," Santorum told a National Journal/CBS News reporter as he shook hands with last-minute voters at a polling station at James Mastricola Upper Middle School on Tuesday evening. "So really, no surprises here."
Asked whether he regrets coming to New Hampshire to compete in the Republican presidential primary, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania answered: "No! No. We feel very good. We think we got a lot of positive responses."Continue »
Updated 8:42 PM ET
HOLLIS, N.H. - Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, facing doubts about his general election viability, on Saturday held up his home state's vaunted swing-state status as proof he could cultivate a conservative record and still appeal to electoral majorities.
Santorum, a former two-term senator, challenged frontrunner Mitt Romney's own electability and conservative credentials, arguing that Romney had run for office three times, sandwiching in his 2002 Massachusetts governor's race victory by running as "a liberal."Continue »
McCain - the Senate's leading crusader against special-interest spending by colleagues -- had harsh words for the former Pennsylvania Senator when he was out on the trail in South Carolina stumping for Mitt Romney, saying: "Sen. Santorum and I have a strong disagreement, a strong disagreement that he believes that earmark and pork-barrel projects were good for America."
Santorum defended his use of earmarks as a member of Congress during a town hall in Dublin.
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous on Friday labeled as "inaccurate and divisive" a statement by Newt Gingrich that African-Americans should "not be satisfied with" food stamps.
The move marks the second time this week that the NAACP has criticized one of the GOP candidates. It also rebuked Rick Santorum for a remark in which he appeared to single out African-Americans as recipients of federal aid. Santorum has denied he was singling out blacks.
Of Gingrich's remark, Jealous said: "It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country. The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job."
Gingrich, like Santorum, vehemently denied his remark had any racial overtones or that he was engaging in class warfare. "I would welcome a request, an opportunity to go to speak to the NAACP convention because I thought there ought to be a conversation,"Gingrich said on CBS' "The Early Show" on Friday, and followed that he would speak to Latinos or any other minority group that wanted "paychecks over food stamps."Continue »
Updated 6 p.m. ET
KEENE, N.H. - The Christian values candidate in the Republican field is getting his baptism by fire in New Hampshire.
As he campaigns among the state's notoriously grumpy electorate, presidential candidate Rick Santorum has spent as much time arguing with prospective voters over same-sex marriage as he has asking them for their support. In the most recent flare-up on the campaign trail, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania was challenged Friday about his opposition to gay rights and President Obama's health care plan.
"I have a question and it's about gay people," asked the first man to be called on at a Santorum town hall meeting here today. "They are children of God too. Do they have the right to marriage? Do they have the right to serve in the military? Should they be treated like any other citizen? Under your presidency, would you protect their rights or would you diminish them?"Continue »
NORTHFIELD, N.H. - Taking a page from rival Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday leveled tough criticism at the judiciary, saying judges have become too powerful and that as president he would do away with some courts.
Speaking to a crowd of 200 at a town hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad, Santorum said the courts needs to be reined in. "The third branch of government is in fact too powerful in the structure of government today with respect to checks and balances," Santorum said. "They have become a super legislature. They have become in effect most powerful of the three (branches of government), and they should be the least."
Some courts, he said, can be abolished. "What the Congress creates, it can uncreate," Santorum said.Continue »
Santorum encouraged the debate with several audience members who attended his address at a college convention sponsored by New England College. The audience of about 200 people included several supporters of Santorum's rival, libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Some booed Santorum when he left the stage
One audience member, a college-aged man, asked Santorum how gay marriage affected him personally. A young woman asked him to justify his embrace of constitutional freedoms such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while at the same time denying the right for gay couples to marry. They were the sort of in-your-face questions that New Hampshire town hall meetings are known for.Continue »
Rick Santorum's upstart finish atop the field in Iowa is a scenario no one would have predicted a mere two weeks ago. It was a validation of his faith in both traditional retail politics and the power of the state's Christian conservatives. On Tuesday night, he thanked his wife, God and Iowa, in that order.
For most of this most volatile of election cycles, nobody paid much attention to Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who hasn't held office for five years and is best known for his very conservative stands on social issues. He was not the most dynamic or the best-funded candidate in the GOP field. But he was among the most dogged, visiting all 99 counties in Iowa and holding more than 370 town halls across the state.
After a pair of late polls showed Santorum inching up into the top tier, he packed one venue after another, drawing increasingly enthusiastic crowds despite the bitter cold. People jammed into coffee shops, libraries and a bank basement. Some indoor events had to be moved outside to accommodate the throngs. The surging interest carried him to about 25 percent in the caucuses, statistically tied with Mitt Romney and ahead of a third-place finishing Ron Paul.Continue »
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Caucus day in Iowa kicked off with an event that brought three of the Republican hopefuls to the gymnasium of Valley High School for "Rock the Caucus," an event meant to encourage the just-turned or about-to-turn 18 set to participate in the process.
For nearly every high schooler that packed into the bleachers, there was a member of the media there to watch as Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul made their final pitches to these would-be caucus-goers. According to Iowa caucus rules, an individual has to be 18 by Election Day to caucus for a candidate.Continue »
Rick Santorum, newly christened by the polls as a serious candidate in Iowa, is beginning to make the case for why he is a better choice than front-runner Mitt Romney, describing the former Massachusetts governor as vulnerable on important issues like health care and the environment. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is also softening his rhetoric on cultural issues, which could help him with the more moderate GOP voters in the second contest coming up, the New Hampshire primary.
In an interview on Monday with conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, Santorum said he regrets his harsh tone at points in his long quest to break out of the GOP pack in Iowa. "People say, 'Oh, you're a hater.' I don't hate anybody," Santorum said. "Have there been times I've been less than respectful? Unfortunately, yes. We all make mistakes and I've apologized for that in the past and some of the tone -- and it's been more in the tone than anything else. But look, I don't apologize for my beliefs. I don't apologize for standing up for the institution of marriage."Continue »
Updated 8:20 p.m. ET
AMES, Iowa -- This is what it feels like to be in third place in Iowa just days from the Jan. 3 caucus: When GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum walked into a Buffalo Wild Wings for a campaign event on Friday, a mob of about 70 reporters, photographers and cameramen was awaiting him.
Iowans gathered to watch the Iowa State-Rutgers game were less than thrilled. Neither was restaurant management who, hard as they tried, couldn't prevent the media scrum from scaring away a few patrons. A slightly bemused Santorum politely answered questions for an hour as the entourage followed him through the restaurant.
"I'm actually trying to watch the game," he said when he sat down at a table of supporters, expressing a desire to order a beer and some wings.Continue »