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Rick Santorum on Obama-over-Romney backlash: ‘Are you kidding me?’

at 05:11 PM ET, 03/23/2012

Rick Santorum explains himself, Mitt Romney gets over a Gallup hump, Newt Gingrich takes his Muslim rhetoric a bit further and Obama celebrates Obamacare.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is continuing to face blowback for saying Thursday “we might as well stay with what we have” rather than elect former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. On Fox News today Santorum explained that he was talking about voters, not himself: “I said ‘we,” meaning ‘we the people might,’ not me.” He reiterated that he would never vote for Obama: “Are you kidding me? What do you think I'm doing this for? You think because I like Barack Obama?” and called the whole controversy “absurd.”

* Romney is the first GOP candidate to get over the 40 percent mark in Gallup national polling, another sign that his nomination is all but inevitable even as the primary drags on. Over the past few days Romney has been rising in Gallup’s polling as Santorum sinks.

* Campaigning at a retirement community Florida today, Vice President Joe Biden told seniors that if Republicans “get their hands on the White House” they will implement a budget that would “end Medicare as we know it.”

* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken his criticism of Obama’s Middle East policies a step further, saying the president “behave[s] the way that people would think that” he’s a Muslim.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Obama’s advisers have had serious discussions with top Democrats about the political upsides and downsides to the president coming out in support of gay marriage before the election, the Plum Line reports. Some Democrats think it would give the party an enthusiasm boost if Obama were to back gay marriage; others worry it would have a negative effect in the Rust Belt. But the advisers say the president will ultimately go with his gut.

* Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) isn’t endorsing a presidential candidate, but he gave some significant praise today. “I think Mitt Romney is a conservative, and I think if elected, he’ll govern as a conservative,” he told reporters. Toomey isn’t just a senator; he’s the former president of the Club for Growth. (Worth noting: Santorum endorsed then-GOP Sen. Arlen Specter over Toomey in a 2004 primary.)

* An intense new web video from Santorum imagines Obamaville, “a place where one president’s failed policies really hit home.” Horror-movie sounds play over footage of a deserted, dimly-lit town, intercut with shots of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a baby in a crib. A full movie is promised on RickSantorum.com shortly.

* For the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama campaign encouraged people to tweet about the law with the hashtag #ilikeobamacare. (“Obamacare” started as a pejorative, but Obama himself has embraced the word.) As with many other White House twitter campaigns, this one was quickly co-opted by administration critics.

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