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After big night, Santorum says he's the candidate with momentum

February 08, 2012|By Paul West
  • Rick Santorum takes the stage with his wife, Karen, during a primary election night party at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Mo.
Rick Santorum takes the stage with his wife, Karen, during a primary election… (Whitney Curtis / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — With a smile on his face, Rick Santorum shrugged off renewed attacks on his Washington background after his sweep of Tuesday's triad of Republican presidential contests.

Mitt Romney, without mentioning Santorum by name, cast himself in an election-night speech as a outsider from the business world pitted against Washington politicians. He called that the "clear choice" for voters this year.

"Mr. Outsider was for a government takeover of healthcare, was for a government takeover of the private sector -- the Wall Street bailout -- and for a takeover of industry and energy with cap-and-trade. So, Mr. Private Sector was Mr. Big Government," Santorum shot back Wednesday morning.

PHOTOS: Campaign 2012 highlights

The former Pennsylvania senator also recalled Romney's failed effort to join the Washington club almost 20 years ago.

"It's funny, because I ran for the United States Senate the same year Mitt Romney ran for the United States Senate. We both ran in 1994. I won and he lost. It's not that Governor Romney didn't want to be Senator Romney," he said on CNN. 

On Tuesday, Santorum beat Romney by nearly 30 percentage points in Minnesota and by 5 points in Colorado, both states that Romney won in 2008. Santorum said he had been outspent by Romney, who directed attack mailings and "nasty" automated phone calls to party activists in both states.

"We definitely are the campaign now with the momentum, the enthusiasm on the ground," he said on CNN.

A tired-looking Santorum said his fundraising had already begun to blip up in recent weeks and that he raised a quarter-million dollars online Tuesday night. Still, he lags Romney by a wide margin in campaign money and lacks a national organization as the race heads into voter tests in more than a dozen states over the next month.

"If money made the difference, we wouldn't have won four primaries so far," he said, referring to his victories in the Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, plus a Missouri primary that has no direct connection to the delegate-selection process. "We feel like, going forward, we're going to have the money we need to make the case we want to make."

Santorum said he believes "that conservatives are beginning to get it that we present the best opportunity to beat President Obama."

PHOTOS: Campaign 2012 highlights

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