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Santorum draws contrasts with GOP rivals in CPAC speech

 

WASHINGTON -- Rick Santorum told an enthusiastic CPAC crowd that he was one of them, drawing contrasts his Republican presidential rivals, whose views he likened to President Obama’s.

"We know each other. We’ve worked together in the vineyards,” Santorum told the activists, stressing their common roots. “We've taken on the tough battles that confront this country. I know you and you know me and that's important because we've worked together.”

"Some say experience is a bad thing in this election. I don't think so. I think knowing the people who are the conservative leaders, knowing the people who have worked in the vineyards for decades, knowing the people who bring the ideas and the breath and the well spring of ideas to conservatism is important,” Santorum added.

The former Pennsylvania senator made his pitch to the activists, who rewarded him with a standing ovation, on the heels of his victories in a trio of nominating contests on Tuesday, upsetting Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s speech Friday was filled with subtle shots at Romney, though few specific mentions of his name. Santorum argued that money alone – a strength of the Romney campaign – isn’t enough to win the election. Republicans need passion, ignited by a conservative nominee, in order to win, he argued.

"As conservatives we lost our heart," he said, speaking of past losses in presidential campaigns. "The lesson we learned is that we will no longer abandon our principles for a hallowed victory in November."

Santorum has spent his time on the campaign trail this week largely focused on Romney and President Obama, with little mention of Newt Gingrich. His attacks at CPAC were clearly intended for Romney, the campaign’s frontrunner.

"We always talk about how we are going to get the moderates.  Why would an undecided voter, vote for a candidate of a party that the party's not excited about?" Santorum said.

He left the direct hits to the man who introduced him, Foster Friess.

The Wyoming billionaire is the chief funder of the "Red, White and Blue Fund" and has been traveling with the inner circle of the campaign -- raising questions about where the line is drawn between candidates ability to interact with their Super PACs  without coordinating.

Today, Friess opened with a joke about a liberal, a moderate and conservative walking into a bar.

The bartender says "Hi, Mitt," the punch line goes.