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With some wind at his back, Santorum targets Paul, invokes his age

 

MASON CITY, Iowa --  Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, whose months spent campaigning in Iowa is beginning to show signs of increased support, went after Iowa frontrunner Ron Paul today, calling a potential GOP nomination of the Texas congressman's "incomprehensible" and reminding voters of the 76-year-old's age.

During two campaign stops in the Hawkeye State, Santorum used the issue of a nuclear Iran to contrast himself against Paul, who during a debate this month said the greatest danger of Iran attempting to get materials for a nuclear weapon is that a president could overreact.

"You'll have a presidential nominee in Ron Paul, who will be to the left of Barack Obama on national security," Santorum said. "It's almost incomprehensible that we would have a candidate that would be that disconnected to reality."

And Santorum even went so far as to invoke Paul's age: "He's going to be 78 years old. How many 78-year-olds change their opinion?"

The former Pennsylvania senator also used the issue to pivot to an attack on Paul's record as a legislator. "Show me one bill he's passed in Congress," Santorum said. "He's been there 20 years."

Instead, the candidate who has been polling in the single digits but whose campaign is now showing signs of life with one week until the Jan. 3 caucuses, said Paul's history as a lawmaker prove that his popular economic platforms will not pass Congress, but that he will be able to execute orders as Commander-In-Chief, which will leave conservative voters with the opposite of what they want -- no changes to the economy and a military with a minimal presence overseas.

But Paul was not the only candidate Santorum mentioned today. He critiqued Gingrich for saying illegal immigrants here longer than 25 years should not be prosecuted, and said his time campaigning through Iowa has made him better prepared for the scrutiny of being president -- something, Santorum contends, that could have served Rick Perry well.

But for a presidential hopeful, who spent so much time in Iowa, much will be made of how he finishes in Iowa. On WHO Radio in Des Moines today, Santorum would only say that a last-place finish in the caucuses would cause him to drop out. 

Santorum told NBC News, "We need to do well."

Asked what constitutes well, he said, "It's like the Supreme Court said, you know it when you see it," a reference to Justice Potter Stewart's 1964 remark on obscenity.