Rick Santorum Goes After Obama, Romney at First New Hampshire Event Since Iowa

Jan 5, 2012 1:06am

BRENTWOOD, NH — He may have lost Iowa to Mitt Romney by a stunning difference of only eight votes, but Rick Santorum was greeted by a packed house at his first event in the Granite State Wednesday evening.

Santorum bounded up to the stage wearing jeans and his signature sweater vest in the “Live Free or Die State” and told the crowd that President Obama believes Americans are “incapable of freedom,” citing the president’s health care plan — what he and other Republicans have dubbed “Obamacare” — as the example.

“You believe here in New Hampshire exactly what they believe in Iowa, exactly what they believe in South Carolina. And I bet you also believe that this government under Barack Obama is undermining that basic principle of what America is all about,” Santorum said. “He is systematically destroying the work ethic. How? By the narcotic of government dependence … Let me just say it in very simple terms: he believes you are incapable of freedom, he believes you cannot provide for yourself and the government has to dictate to you.”

The Santorum campaign has raised one million dollars in the last 24 hours and the former Pennsylvania senator told the audience that the amount doubled what they have brought in this entire campaign. An aide said the money was almost all small dollar contributions.

The crowd cheered throughout the speech and Santorum kept coming back to the issue of freedom being infringed upon. But being only six days away from the primary, he also gave his closing pitch to the voters. He told them, as he did in Iowa, they have a “huge burden,” because of their first in the nation status and no candidate should be anointed just yet.

“Everyone says, ‘Oh this race is over. Only one candidate can win. A lot of folks are trying to tell you this is the guy that’s going to win,” Santorum said, clearly referring to Mitt Romney. “You fight to be first. You have a responsibility in doing that, and that is to lead, not pay attention to what the polls or pundits say. How many people say pundits were right over the last six months about what was going to happen in this race? None, like seriously wrong. They’re worse than weathermen.”

All over Iowa, Santorum stressed his “consistent conservative” credentials, and on Wednesday he again focused on consistency and how, despite his conservative record, he can woo independent voters.

“You may not agree with me on every issue and I suspect you don’t, but I can tell you that I agree with me on every issue,” Santorum said in a dig at Romney.

This trip is Santorum’s thirtieth to the state, and although Romney has a huge amount of support and leads all polls by a wide margin here, he sharply contrasted himself with his opponent.

“(I’m) the only person in this race that has run as a conservative in Democratic states or districts … as a conservative and has been able to get elected,” Santorum said, again referring to Romney. “I love this issue that I hear all the time, ‘Oh well this candidate is the most electable. What would give you that impression? When has that candidate ever run as a conservative and gotten any votes so what would make you assume he’s the most electable?”

He said New Hampshire voters will see that he is the “kind of candidate that the people of New Hampshire can rally behind.”

“In a very short time frame, we will show here in new Hampshire that we are the kind of candidate that the people of New Hampshire can rally behind,” Santorum said.

Like many town halls here, voters came armed with questions and Santorum answered and answered and answered, telling the crowd he would “wear them down” before ending. In response a woman yelled out, “Shorter answers!”

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