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Posted at 01:50 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Santorum says the only woman he’s ever sat on a couch with is his wife

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum told a Spartanburg crowd Wednesday that the only woman he’s ever sat on a couch with is his wife, a not-so-subtle dig at former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who appeared seated next to Democrat Nancy Pelosi in a 2008 ad urging action on climate change.


Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and his wife Karen Santorum (T.J. Kirkpatrick - Getty Images)

The new line drew hoots of laughter from a crowd gathered at the Beacon Drive-In barbecue joint, as Santorum stepped up efforts to paint both Gingrich and front-runner former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as willing to sell out conservative caucuses to fit popular opinion. He cited the 2008 Wall Street bailout plan, backed by leaders in both parties including Romney and Gingrich; Santorum was opposed.

“Judgment matters,” Santorum said. “When the winds are blowing, what we’ve seen with Romney and Gingrich is that they put their sails up and they go. I tack against the wind. I stand up for the values that I know are true.”

Santorum’s jab comes as Gingrich appears to be rising in South Carolina polls and has suggested repeatedly, including Wednesday morning, that Santorum should exit the race to allow the conservative vote to rally around his own campaign.

But Santorum noted that — unlike Gingrich, who hails from Georgia — he won four elections in heavily Democratic Pennsylvania and bested Gingrich in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

“The hubris — and I might even go so far as to say arrogance — of Speaker Gingrich to suggest that I don’t have the experience to run a campaign, to win a national campaign,” Santorum said.

“So let’s talk about who should be in this race,” Santorum said. “Here’s what I’ll say: Everyone who wants to be in this race should be in this race. And I’m not going to be someone who’s going to point my finger at someone at say, ‘I’m better than you, you should get out.’ That’s not how South Carolina’s going to decide this race.”

Santorum also told the crowd that the Iowa GOP had made a mistake when it declared Romney the winner of the caucuses Jan. 2, though Romney was only eight votes ahead.

A canvas of those votes is now underway, and Santorum believes it may show that he received more votes than Romney, a result that would “change the complexion” of the race, he said. Wednesday, he dropped a hesitancy to criticize Iowa leaders for their handling of the tight race. Their declaration of a Romney win helped cement the idea that Romney gained a momentum from the near tie.

By Roz Helderman  |  01:50 PM ET, 01/18/2012

 
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