Osage Beach, Missouri – In a speech in Missouri today, Rick Santorum delivered some of his sharpest attacks yet on Mitt Romney, comparing his top rival to President Obama.
Discussing Romney’s record on various topics, including health and the 2008 bailouts, Santorum argued that the GOP needed a nominee who contrasted sharply with Obama, not “someone who advocated everything President Obama did on those subjects, everything, and worse, as governor, put things in place” and “on top of that, nominated and confirmed some of the most liberal justices in the history of the state of Massachusetts.”
He also harshly criticized Romney’s record on abortion.
“On the life issue,” Santorum said of Romney, “this is a man who gave money to Planned Parenthood, personal checks, who on every race he ran until he started to run for president filled out 100 percent pro-choice, and then at the end of his governor’s term when he decided to run for president, he had a conversion.”
“Wonderful,” Santorum continued, a sarcastic edge to his voice. “I’m happy for him. But also at the end of his term his economic team gave low-interest loans to Planned Parenthood to build a clinic in Massachusetts after his conversion.”
Romney, whose term as governor of Massachusetts ended in early 2007, announced he was pro-life in 2005. He vetoed legislation that would have allowed scientists to clone embryos to use for stem cell research that same year. Asked for a response to the loan accusation, a Romney aide pointed to this quote from Eric Fehrnstrom (then spokesman for Romney) in a 2007 Boston Globe piece: “He did not know about this loan. It was made by an agency that does not report to the governor. If it did, he would have told them not to do it.”
After criticizing Romney’s record on abortion, Santorum added, “We don’t need someone who had convenient conversion experiences on a whole host of issues.”
He also took aim at Romney’s popularity among urban Republicans.
“If you look at where my Republican opponent has won, it’s always in and around the cities. It almost looks like a Republican versus a Democrat,” Santorum said, referring to some states that he did not explicitly name. “He’s winning the areas the Democrats win and I win the areas Republicans win.”
Santorum paused for a moment. “Does that tell you something maybe?”
UPDATE: “Rick Santorum has a habit of making distortions, exaggerations and falsehoods about Mitt Romney’s record,” e-mails Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul in response. “What really has Sen. Santorum upset is that this election is about jobs and the economy, subjects Sen. Santorum has no experience with and does not understand. Sen. Santorum helped create the problems in Washington, he cannot be part of the solution.”