April 11, 2012 -- Mitt Romney is a "liar," a "bully," a "flip-flopper," an out-of-touch millionaire, an "Etch A Sketch" of a person, and "the worst Republican in the country," but you don't have to take the Democrats' word for it, just ask Rick Santorum.
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator whose surprisingly meteoric campaign came to a close Tuesday, has virtually written President Obama's playbook for the general election, supplying a quiver of weaponized talking points Democrats will likely parrot in the months ahead.
"Surely, some of the attacks that were leveled by Santorum will be used by the Obama campaign, but it comes with the territory. Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment, not to attack fellow Republicans, has been thrown out of late in Republican primaries," a Republican strategist with ties to the Romney campaign told ABC News.
In the past month alone, Santorum has leveled some of his most brutal attacks against Romney, now the presumptive GOP nominee.
"Pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama," Santorum said in Wisconsin on March 25. Santorum later qualified his comments, explaining that he was talking only about Romney's inability to attack Obama on healthcare, and calling a New York Times reporter's question about the stridency of his attack, "bull***it."
Obama likely won't be able to attack Romney on healthcare in quite the same terms, however. He will be able to go after Romney, a multimillionaire and hedge funder, for his ties to Wall Street.
At a rally in Rockford, Ill., last month, Santorum practically wrote Obama's speech for him.
"I heard Governor Romney here called me an economic lightweight because I wasn't a Wall Street financier like he was. Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States, do you think that's the kind of experience that we need? Someone who's going to take and look after as he did his friends on Wall Street and bail them out at the expense of main street America?" Santorum said.
Santorum has characterized Romney as a hypocrite, a "flip-flopper" who changes his positions as often as a "well-oiled weather vane" and as easily as one could shake up an Etch A Sketch toy.
On this point too, Santorum has given Obama more than enough ammunition to steal.
At a February campaign even in Tennessee, Santorum said of Romney: "He glosses over and doesn't even tell the truth. … Here is a guy who is the ultimate flip-flopper running for president, and he's attacking me for not being principled? That doesn't wash," Santorum said.
Later when Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom remarked that candidates could shift messages between a primary and general like an Etch A Sketch, Santorum pounced on the comment, labeling Romney the "Etch a Sketch candidate."
"We might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future," he said in San Antonio Texas.
Romney has already begun "sharpening his responses to attack lines he has heard," said the GOP strategist with ties to the Romney campaign. "Part of the primary is knowing those attacks and preparing responses for the general."