Santorum Attacks McCain, Dole And H.W. Bush

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rick-santorumRick Santorum continued to cast himself as a scrappy fighter against a mighty Republican “establishment” late Thursday – even lumping together former presidents and former presidential hopefuls into a losing clan of Republican moderates.

“You have an opportunity, here in Washington state, to join me …To say we want a conservative nominee for the Republican Party in the fall,” Santorum told hundreds of supporters in Pasco, Washington, ahead of the state’s caucuses on Saturday.

“We want a conservative nominee because that’s our best chance of winning. Look at the races in the last 30 years, we nominated a moderate: [John] McCain, [Bob] Dole, Gerald Ford. When George [H.W.] Bush ran for re-election back in 1992, after raising taxes and increasing spending. They all ran as moderates. We all lost,” Santorum said.

“Every time we’ve run as a conservative, we’ve won,” the candidate continued. “Why? Because Americans want a choice. If it’s a difference between somebody, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, you know what, this country is going to probably going to stick with the person they know. We need to have a sharp contrast. Someone who paints a very different vision for America.”

It’s possible Santorum singled out those specific names because of their praise of GOP rival Mitt Romney. McCain and Dole have endorsed the former Massachusetts governor. And though the nation’s 41st president has not officially endorsed a candidate, Bush called Romney the “best choice” for the GOP nomination in December.

During his speech, Santorum highlighted times he’d bucked his own party. And yet he did not play up his long history with the GOP “establishment.” During his time in the Senate, he rose to the number three position in that chamber’s GOP leadership.

During CNN’s GOP debate in Phoenix, the former Pennsylvania senator even explained that “sometimes you take one for the team.” In that specific reference, Santorum explained his “mistake” in voting for the No Child Left Behind education law that’s unpopular with many conservatives.

Santorum frequently assails Romney as being less than truly conservative. But the tactic appears to be taking on increased urgency as both men vie for the delegates needed to win their party’s nomination.

“We have an opportunity, here in the state of Washington, to nominate someone not just who can win the election,” Santorum told the crowd. “We’re going to need someone who’s going to have to run a campaign that’s actually about ideas instead of just trying to beat up your opponent.”

It’s a feat Santorum insisted he could accomplish.

“Why do I say that? Well first, I’ve actually run as a conservative and got elected in a state that we have to win in order to win the presidency. Gov. Romney has never run as a conservative in a general election.”

Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said Santorum’s comments are a sign he “can’t accept the fact that he lost Arizona and Michigan.”

“Four years ago, when he was speaking candidly, he said Mitt Romney would ‘stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear.’ In comparison, Sen. Santorum admitted he ‘took one for the team’ in Washington by voting against those principles,” Saul said in an email. “This is yet another case of Sen. Santorum abandoning principle for his own political advantage.”

{Political Ticker/Matzav.com Newscenter}

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