“[H]is extreme-right social views are as out of touch as they are memorable.

Mr. Santorum “doesn’t come with the type of political baggage that Gingrich had,” said one Obama adviser. “He has the ability to go farther and is much more likely to be a potential nominee.” Directing attacks against Mr. Santorum is “under discussion at the headquarters” in Chicago, he added.

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“I think it sort of rings hollow for Romney to say I’m not a conservative. I think most people just sort of chuckle when they hear that. I mean, that just doesn’t fit,” Santorum said.

“Governor Romney focuses on the Obama administration, and the reason he does is because he supported what the Bush administration did. Well, I didn’t,” the former senator said. “I actually blame President Bush, more than President Obama,” for having set a precedent of greater government involvement in the private sector.

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“We have to be concerned about everybody, from the very rich to the very poor,” he said.

“I was the most conservative senator by far based on the state I represented and the spending record I had,” said Santorum, the object of attack ads from Romney supporters.

A day after releasing his tax returns, Santorum took a dig at multi-millionaire former private equity executive Romney.

“I do my own taxes. Heck, Romney paid half the taxes I did. He doesn’t do his own taxes. Maybe I should hire an accountant in the future,” Santorum said.

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“I love the auto industry. I want to see it thriving and growing. I’m glad it went through a managed bankruptcy process, which I recommended from the very beginning to shed unnecessary costs and get its footing again. I’m delighted it’s profitable,” Romney said in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Santorum pronounced himself pure in opposing government bailouts of private industry, saying he had opposed not only the auto bailouts but the bank bailouts of 2008 and 2009, which Romney had backed.

Romney was quick to point out that Santorum said at the time he did not think the bank bailouts were “an unreasonable decision.”

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