Santorum: Romney "deliberately" misrepresenting health care record

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the Alabama Policy Institute 2012 Presidential Candidate Forum, March 8, 2012, in Mobile, Alabama. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum went on the offensive Thursday night against his rival Mitt Romney, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of "deliberately" misrepresenting his record on health care - though he declined to call Romney a liar outright.

In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Santorum demurred on a question regarding the continuing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh by pivoting to Romney's history on health care.

"What I'd like to talk about, which is offensive, which is Governor Romney out there for almost a year telling the people in the Republican primary that he never advocated that Romneycare would be a federal model," Santorum told Morgan. "That he never advocated for an individual mandate, that government at the federal level require people to buy insurance, and now we find on several occasions, just in the past week, article after article, interview after interview, where Governor Romney did just that in 2009. Now, to me, that's offensive."

"For someone to go out and deliberately misrepresent his record, what he did at a very critical time, when people were making decisions on the issue of health care, for him to go out and recommend that to President Obama and then tell the voters on debate after debate that he never did any such thing, not only is his policy bad, not only did he recommend the wrong policy for the country, that he didn't tell the truth about what he did," Santorum continued.

Romney has faced criticism from Republicans for the health care law he signed while serving as governor of Massachusetts in 2005 - particularly because the legislation, like President Obama's health care law, includes an individual mandate. The administration has said Romney's health care law in Massachusetts served as a model for his.

The former Massachusetts governor has maintained that he thought the individual mandate was right for Massachusetts but that health care should not be mandated on a federal level, although a 2009 op-ed Romney penned for USA Today, recently unearthed by the website BuzzFeed, seems to suggest he may have thought otherwise.

"Healthcare is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America's families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline," Romney wrote in the article, according to BuzzFeed. "There's a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it." 

Santorum on Thursday accused Romney of "serially" telling people "that he did not do what we now know he did repeatedly."

Morgan prompted: "I mean, unless I'm mistaken, I think not telling the truth repeatedly is lying, isn't it?"

"Well, I'll let you frame that one and take responsibility for it. I just -- I said all I'm going to say on this," Santorum said.

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