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Santorum, possible GOP presidential candidate, attacks Romney on health care

Posted by Metro Desk  March 14, 2011 02:59 PM

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NEWTON -- Former US senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who campaigned for Mitt Romney in 2008 but is now weighing his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination, today attacked Romney for signing Massachusetts’ universal health care law.

Calling himself a "consistent conservative," on social and economic issues, Santorum said both the 2006 Massachusetts law and President Obama’s recent overhaul of the national health care system would drive more people in to government-sponsored health plans.

“The issues, unfortunately, don’t line up particularly well for Governor Romney this time, particularly with health care being front and center on the stage,” Santorum said in an interview, before speaking to a Roman Catholic group.

“I feel we need someone who is a strong, principled conservative who believes not in government mandates, not in government control of the health care system, but in a patient-centered approach to health care,” Santorum said.

Santorum added that both the state and federal laws "tend to drive employers out of the private sector plans because they’re expensive and more people end up on the government plan."

“Ultimately, it’s a failure," Santorum said.

Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, responded today by saying the Massachusetts law may not work for every state.

"The Massachusetts healthcare law works for Massachusetts, but each state should be free to come up with its own health care solution," Fehrnstrom said in a statement. "A one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is the wrong way to go."

Known for his outspoken stances on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, Santorum came to the Hotel Indigo in Newton to speak before about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship, which encourages Roman Catholics to speak out on matters of politics and public policy.

The former two-term US senator who lost his seat to a Democrat, Bob Casey, in 2006, said he is “kicking around a run for president” in 2012 and has made 12 trips to New Hampshire in the past year.

Addressing the group over lunch, Santorum spoke for about 15 minutes before taking questions. His remarks covered a range of topics -- from Sharia law to liberal influence in the media and universities.

In his opening remarks, Santorum, who is Catholic, sharply criticized the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, for his 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy spoke about the role of religion in public life.

Santorum said he was “frankly appalled” that Kennedy had declared in the speech that, ”I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

Santorum said that framework did “great damage” by marginalizing the role of religion in public life. “Jefferson is spinning in his grave,” he said.

Santorum was equally critical of Catholic schools and parishes for what he called their embrace of a “lukewarm” version of Roman Catholicism.

“The heresy that goes on in Catholic schools in America is amazing,” he said. He urged the crowd not to donate money to Catholic schools that abandon the church’s teachings.

“You’re feeding the beast,” he said, sparking applause.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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