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Santorum says he was no ‘junior partner’ in Congress

By Rosalind Helderman,

NORTHFIELD, N.H. — Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum on Thursday rejected a dismissive evaluation of his congressional record by presidential rival Newt Gingrich, who said Santorum was a “junior partner”

In fact, Santorum said, his work with the Gang of Seven, a group of Republican members of Congress who helped expose a scandal in the House bank, led to the 1994 Republican Revolution for which Gingrich usually receives credit.

“The impact that we had on Washington D.C. in the Gang of Seven led to the 1994 revolution,” Santorum said. “I was no junior partner in that. Newt was not involved in that revolution, when it came to the corruption and the scandal.

“He sat on the sideline when I was out there putting my face and putting my reputation out to try to reform Congress,”Santorum told reporters. “I think that tells you who’s got the courage to stand up and fight.”

Santorum is facing new attention on his 12 years in Congress after a stunning photo-finish with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses.

While Gingrich has been largely complimentary of Santorum — who served under Gingrich when he was speaker in the House before his election to the Senate — he told a crowd in Plymouth, N.H., on Thursday that “in historical terms, he would be a junior partner,” according to Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin.

That dig most likely stings. Santorum makes his role as author of welfare reform in the House and floor manager of the bill when it passed the Senate a key part of his stump speech.

Santorum made the comments to reporters as he left a town hall meeting at a picturesque railroad museum in Northfield, N.H.

For 80 minutes, he spoke before an attentive crowd on Social Security, Medicare and foreign policy. Unlike in most of his recent Iowa appearances, abortion did not come up.

He called on the the Northfield crowd — and a rotary club earlier Thursday in Manchester — to reject the common perception that New Hampshire is less conservative than Iowa and would prefer a more moderate candidate than Iowans.

Instead, he asked them to relive the history of the 1980 election — casting himself as that year’s New Hampshire primary winner, Ronald Reagan.

“In this election, you have a choice,” he said. “Back in 1980, we had this election. Iowa voted for George H.W. Bush. New Hampshire went with Ronald Reagan. Liberal New Hampshire — at least that’s what the media says, liberal New Hampshire, went with Reagan. Conservative Iowa went with Bush. …If it wasn’t for New Hampshire, Reagan wouldn’t have happened.”

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