Santorum targets Romney in South Carolina

by
January 16, 2012

By Colleen Jenkins

(Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum took aim at front-runner Mitt Romney on Sunday as he sought to build on a late endorsement from evangelical leaders and narrow the crucial South Carolina contest to a two-man race.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, said conservative voters should not let concerns about the shaky economy or defeating Democratic President Barack Obama interfere with their beliefs.

“America is a moral enterprise, not an economic enterprise,” he said at a seafood restaurant in Florence, South Carolina.

Romney has built his campaign on his experience in business and criticism of Obama’s handling of the economy but rivals have attacked his moderate stint as governor of Massachusetts and his tenure as head of a private-equity firm.

With South Carolina’s January 21 primary approaching, time is running short for other candidates to slow Romney’s march to the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum would appear to have the best chance to stop Romney, after Christian leaders backed him at a meeting in Texas on Saturday.

An organization allied to Romney is sponsoring an attack ad airing frequently in South Carolina that says Santorum supported wasteful spending and wanted to extend voting rights to felons while in Congress.

“That is a lie,” Santorum said. “To go and mislead the people of South Carolina as to what our record is on this is just yuck.”

Arguing that he would be the strongest Republican against Obama, Romney has opened up a 21-point lead in the state as the conservative vote remains splintered, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Saturday.

Santorum was at 16 percent of the vote, tied for second place with Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

To read more, visit: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/16/us-usa-campaign-idUSTRE80E0OO20120116

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