Santorum likens Obama administration to "drug dealer"

Trying to keep his controversial positions on social issues from drowning out his message, GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum is steering his Ohio campaign discussions toward the economy. Dean Reynolds reports.

Santorum focuses on economy in Ohio
Rick Santorum

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum compared the Obama administration to a drug dealer who wants to get Americans hooked on entitlement programs to expand his power.

Santorum said the president's health care law in a new addictive drug.

"That's how they see you, as people, to get hooked like a drug dealer, someone to become dependent on them and once that happens, they got you," Santorum said during a speech to several hundred people at Grace Church late Sunday. "America is changed forever. No country that has socialized medicine has ever gone back the other way, no country that has lost its freedom has ever regained it."

In 2010, Santorum made a similar statement about President Obama, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - all Democrats -- in a speech to the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee's dinner, according to the website Buzzfeed. Santorum is well known for his biting, sometimes over-the-top political rhetoric, which has prompted members of his own party to question his electability in a fall matchup with Obama.

In other remarks at the church, Santorum also drew contrasts with rival Mitt Romney ahead of Oklahoma's primary on Tuesday, part of the Super Tuesday sweepstakes. He noted that he has never supported government mandates in health care while Romney did as Massachusetts governor.

Describing why he believes that increasing taxes on the wealthy would not reduce the nation's deficit, Santorum said that the rich would just move their money offshore and used Romney as a hypothetical example.

"My tax rate was about 27, 28 percent. Governor Romney's was half that amount. I'm not criticizing that. ... He can take his capital gains, and he can take his investments, and move them offshore, move them someplace else. I'm not saying he would do that, but I'm saying a lot of people could do that and would do that if the government suddenly started taxing them more."

Romney does maintain offshore assets, according to his financial disclosure statements and tax returns. And while Romney's wealth dwarfs Santorum's, the former senator from Pennsylvanai makes roughly $1 million a year, according to his tax returns.

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

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