Santorum: Romney running "desperate campaign"

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on "Face the Nation," Sunday, March 25, 2012. CBS

(CBS News) Coming off a decisive victory in Saturday night's Louisiana primary, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is blasting Mitt Romney's campaign as "desperate" and lacking in message - and one that will be unable to effectively go head-to-head with President Obama come November.

Santorum, in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," contended on Sunday that Republican voters want to elect a nominee who has "their principles written on their heart - not on an erasable tablet."

"A lot of folks are saying this race is over," Santorum told CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell. "The people in Louisiana said, 'No, it's not,' and they still want to see someone who they can trust, someone who's not running an Etch a Sketch campaign but one that, you know, has their principles written on their heart - not on an erasable tablet."

Romney took heat last week after his adviser Eric Fehrnstrom suggested the former Massachusetts governor would switch gears in the general election and hit the "reset button" - kind of "like an Etch A Sketch."

Santorum argued that come November, Romney would not be able to draw a credible contrast between himself and Mr. Obama, and that voters were "looking for someone who's gonna win the election because they have better ideas - not because they've been able to pound their opponent into the ground with overwhelming negative advertisements."

The former Pennsylvania senator brushed off criticism from the Romney campaign, which in a statement Saturday night compared Santorum to a "football team celebrating a field goal when they are losing by seven touchdowns with less than a minute left in the game."

"His attempts to distract from his listless campaign and the conservative backlash caused by his suggestion that keeping President Obama would be better than electing a Republican are becoming sadder and more pathetic by the day," read the Romney statement, released by campaign spokesperson Ryan Williams following Santorum's win in Louisiana.

"Well you know, that's just a desperate campaign that has no message," Santorum told O'Donnell, responding to the statement. "We're gonna support whoever [the Republican nominee] is, but we want someone who can win. Someone who can go up against Barack Obama and actually draw a contrast on the big issues of the day like health care and on energy."

"Governor Romney's just been dead wrong on those issues for years and years and years, and it would be probably the worst candidate for us to nominate to go after Barack Obama on gas prices and on government takeover on health care," he continued. "Heck, he was the - he created the blueprint for the government takeover of health care that President Obama followed."

While many estimates - including that of CBS News - put Romney well ahead of Santorum in the delegate count, Santorum on Sunday disputed the Romney camp's calculation, arguing that his own campaign is actually "in much, much better shape than what the numbers that are out there suggest."

"I don't agree with the delegate math that the Romney campaign's putting out there," Santorum said. "For example, in Florida and Arizona, they have it as a winner-take-all state, and they're not winner-take-all."

A new Republican National Committee (RNC) rule dictates that states holding their presidential primaries before April are not allowed to award their delegates proportionally. But some states, including Florida and Arizona, have already violated RNC rules for moving their primary dates up - and because the RNC cannot penalize states twice, the states were able to proceed with winner-take-all allocation.

Santorum on Sunday challenged the legitimacy of that system.

"There's a lot of bad math there that doesn't reflect the reality of what's going on on the ground," he said. "So I think we're in much, much better shape than what the numbers that are out there suggest."

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