Santorum: ‘I’m Not Going to Run as a Conservative – I’m a Conservative Period’

March 30, 2012 - 4:33 PM
Santorum 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Hudson, Wis., Friday, March 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(CNSNews.com) GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday took GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney to task for his past as a self-described “independent” who claimed he did not want to “return to the days of Reagan-Bush.

Santorum, speaking to supporters at the Jelly Belly factory – which had honored President Ronald Reagan in the past for promoting the jelly bean – asked which candidate would be pull together the “Reagan coalition” and win swings states, which are “vitally important” for winning the presidential election.

Santorum noted that while running for U.S. Senate in 1994 – the same year that Santorum ran for the Senate – Romney claimed to be an independent, saying he was “not trying to return to the days of Reagan-Bush.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, he ran to the left and lost, just like what happens all the time when Republicans run to the left,” Santorum said.

Santorum, in contrast, said he successfully ran as a conservative in a “tough state” that “had not elected a conservative to the United States Senate for decades” against Sen. Harris Wofford, a Democrat.

“But I stood up in that same year – 1994 – and ran as a conservative, right down the line on the Reagan principles, ran and supported what was called the Contract With America. And I was elected over the man who was the author of Clintoncare in the United States Senate, and his campaign was run by none other than James Carville and Paul Begala,” Santorum said.

“We need someone who isn’t going to be the Etch-a-Sketch candidate, someone who’s going to stand by their principles. Ronald Reagan didn’t say one thing in front of one group and something else in front of another. Ronald Reagan had core convictions. It’s the reason the establishment Republicans never were for him. They always tried to run a moderate against him,” the former Pennsylvania senator said.

Santorum said the GOP party needs someone who has Reagan’s conservative values, “not as one of Romney’s staffers said that his public policy is written on an Etch-a-Sketch, but someone where his public policy is written on his heart.”

“Governor Romney said that after the Etch-a-Sketch flap that he was going to run as a conservative in the fall. I’m not going to run as a conservative in the fall. I am a conservative, period,” Santorum said.