In Ohio, Romney Slams Santorum in Front of Tepid Audience

Feb 20, 2012 6:24pm

CINCINNATI — As Sen. Rick Santorum holds on to his lead in the polls, Mitt Romney arrived in Ohio today for a speech with little fanfare, walking out without his customary campaign music and without an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

Speaking at a biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Romney repeated his latest attacks on Santorum, accusing the former Pennsylvania senator of overspending during his years in Congress, but did so to a crowd that was more muted than his usual animated, sign-holding, autograph-seeking audiences.

“One of the people I’m running against, Senator Santorum, goes to Washington and calls himself a budget hawk,” said Romney, who received only halfhearted applause during his speech, which clocked in at just under 15 minutes. “Then after he’s been there a while he says he’s no longer a budget hawk.”

The latest daily Gallup national poll shows Santorum with a 10-point lead over Romney.

While Romney usually walks out at events to a blaring rendition of Kid Rock’s “Born Free,” today he walked out silently next to Sen. Bob Portman, who endorsed Romney earlier this year and introduced him at the event. At the end of the event, a softer version of the song could be heard humming quietly from the speakers.

Missing was the standing ovation the former Massachusetts governor usually receives upon entering a room, and in its place shy waves from a group of supporters standing behind Romney’s podium.

“Well, I am a budget hawk,” Romney told the crowd of about 100. “I don’t want to spend more money than we take in. I don’t believe it’s appropriate for us to keep raising the debt ceiling every year. He voted five times to raise the debt ceiling without getting compensating cuts in spending. During his time in the Senate, only two terms, the size of the federal government grew 80 percent.

“When Republicans go to Washington and spend like Democrats, you’re going to have a lot of spending, and that’s what we’ve seen over the last several years,” said Romney.

This was Romney’s only campaign event today, while Santorum has four events, traveling to both Michigan and Ohio. Romney was scheduled to hold a private fundraiser in Cincinnati tonight before heading to Shelby, Mich., for a town hall there on Tuesday.

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