Santorum at the Supreme Court: Romney "uniquely disqualified" to attack health care law

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, March 26, 2012, as the court began three days of arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama in Washington. Standing with him are his children, from left: John, Elizabeth, and Daniel. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Rick Santorum
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum came to the steps of the Supreme Court on Monday to lambast President Obama's Affordable Care Act and rival Mitt Romney for signing the Massachusetts blueprint for the national law.

"There's one candidate who is uniquely disqualified to make the case" against the law, Santorum said of Romney. "It's the reason I'm here and he's not. The reason that I talk about Obamacare and its impact on the economy and on fundamental freedoms, and Mitt Romney doesn't. It's because he can't, because he supported government-run health care as governor of Massachusetts."

The Supreme Court is hearing three days of arguments on the constitutionality of the law. With the famous building as a backdrop, Santorum spoke for 15 minutes to a thick crowd of reporters and demonstrators.

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Santorum pledged to center his campaign around opposition to the health-care law and said Republicans should make him their nominee if they really want the law repealed. "There's only one person who can make that happen, and that's someone who makes Obamacare the central issue in this race, and that's what I do," he said. By contrast, he called Romney "the worst person to make that case."

Santorum made a similar comment Sunday and lost his temper when reporters repeatedly asked him whether he meant Romney was the worst candidate on health care or in general -- including a particularly noteworthy outburst at New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny. Santorum accused Zeleny and the national media of "distorting" his words and called it "bull(expletive)." (watch at left)

"I don't regret taking on a New York Times reporter who was out of line," Santorum said on the court steps. "You know, if you're a conservative and you haven't taken on a New York Times reporter, you're not worth your salt as far as I'm concerned. So we're going to stand up and fight." For good measure he accused the Romney campaign of "feeding ... lies to the reporters."

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Santorum also answered questions about his decision to remain in the race despite moutning calls from party leaders to shift focus to the general election. He seized on a comment from former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, a Romney supporter, that the "significant" people had decided it was time to move on from the primary process.

"Well, I guess we'll have to leave it to the 'insignificant' voters of America in the remaining primaries to step forward and challenge the 'significant' people who are speaking here in Washington, D.C.," Santorum said. "The significant people in my mind are the people in Louisiana on Saturday who significantly gave us a big win, and we believe as we go forward there will be a lot of significant voters out there who want to have their voices heard from the folks here in Washington, and the Romney campaign who don't believe they should be heard throughout the course of this primary."

Full CBS News coverage: Rick Santorum

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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