“Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota!”
That was Rick Santorum’s opening line in a brief, but stirring speech tonight in St. Charles, Missouri, that he used to both distinguish himself from Mitt Romney and to prove he could be a formidable opponent against President Obama.
“I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” Santorum remarked. Instead, he said he was “the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”
“He thinks he’s smarter than you,” Santorum said of Obama, going on to criticize the president for his pushing of bigger government and increased regulations. He spoke especially harshly about the administration forcing Catholic organizations to offer contraception as part of employees’ health care.
But he also took several shots at Romney, whose campaign pivoted to attacking him aggressively yesterday. He said that on health-care, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts that Romney and Obama shared the “same positions.” Mentioning that he cared about rich and poor Americans, Santorum added, “I care about 100 percent of America.” He criticized Romney for centering his campaign’s argument on the fact that he has more money and a better organization.
Toward the end of his speech, he returned to a broader theme. “Freedom,” he said, “is at stake in this election.”