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Santorum blasts his GOP rivals

GREENVILLE, SC -- Playing the aggressive underdog, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took shots at almost all of his primary opponents during a speech here today.

Speaking at a South Carolina GOP fundraiser, Santorum revisited his criticism of a Ron Paul campaign blogger, who suggested that America was partly to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Santorum also alleged that -- based on their statements supporting Afghanistan troop withdrawal at Monday’s presidential debate -- Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman subscribed to “at least part” of Paul’s foreign-policy viewpoint.

“For Ron Paul to have on his website, and he did, a quote from someone who blamed 9/11 on us, that it was our actions that brought about 9/11 and in a sense, we deserved it -- why would you put a man like that in the White House?”

He continued, “Unfortunately, we see not just him and now Huntsman and now Perry signing on to at least part of that agenda."

Santorum said that when he heard Perry talk about withdrawal from Afghanistan, “I felt I was listening to Joe Biden, not Rick Perry.”

Santorum also suggested that Perry’s comments on Social Security were nothing new, telling the audience of 30 here that he had been vocal on the issue since the mid-1990s.

“It’s great for Rick Perry to go out and say, 'Oh, we need to change the Social Security system.' Heck, the AARP says we need to change the Social Security system. How bold is that!”

IN addition, he accused both Herman Cain and Mitt Romney of hypocrisy, saying that they’ve both run for office before -- although they play the “businessman, not career politician” card.

“I understand you’re a businessman, I understand you’ve accomplished things, but don’t say you're not a career politician when you tried to be one but you just failed at it!” he exclaimed.

Not even an ex-candidate -- former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- escaped Santorum’s line of fire, as he took a shot at Pawlenty’s third-place showing at the Ames straw poll.

Santorum said that Pawlenty’s heavy investment in Ames didn’t pay off, while his fourth-place finish came with a much smaller price tag. He told the audience here a story about running into a commentator at the straw poll who told him that in this case, coming in fourth was better than coming in third.

“I finished in fourth and Pawlenty finished in third. And the reason it was bad was they spent an enormous amount of money and were able to end up with only a few hundred votes more than I did,” Santorum said.

After the event today, Santorum headed back to Pennsylvania. He will be returning to South Carolina on Saturday for a series of events including celebrations of Constitution Day, held on Sept. 17.