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Santorum tells reporters: Romney is spinning you

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Reporters asking Rick Santorum about the latest in a week's worth of controversial comments got a tongue lashing on Friday from the Republican presidential candidate, who accused the media of eating up the spin from rival Mitt Romney.

Speaking to reporters after firing off rounds at a shooting range in West Monroe, La., Santorum told reporters to "do some reporting instead of just reporting what Gov. Romney feeds you."  The remarks came in response to a question about comments the former Pennsylvania senator made Thursday when, referring to Romney, he said, "If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have." Romney's team of advisers jumped on that line, portraying Santorum as someone who favors four more years of President Obama over a GOP nominee that is not him.


Pressed about the comment on Friday, Santorum said, “I didn’t say that, I mean look, how many times have you guys heard me say this, that we have to have a clear choice ... what I was saying is, if we don’t have a choice then a lot of voters are going to vote for what they have."

The GOP hopeful has spent this week responding to and clarifying a series of forced and unforced errors. It began Sunday when Santorum attended a church service in Baton Rouge, La., where the pastor who introduced him suggested that those who do not believe in Jesus should leave the country. Santorum clarified that he does not share the pastor's views, but from there, his week did not get any easier.

On Monday, Santorum provided fodder for Romney with the comment "I don't care what the unemployment rate's going to be. Doesn't matter to me."

The point, he later explained, was that his campaign is based on more fundamental issues than the current jobless numbers. That did not stop the Romney campaign from blasting out emails with the quote and the former Massachusetts governor from using it on the stump.

And Friday, as media filmed Santorum firing a hand gun at a paper target with a human silhouette, a supporter drew chuckles by yelling, "Pretend it's Obama."

"It's a very terrible and horrible remark, and I'm glad I didn't hear it," Santorum said when asked about the comment, and there was visible frustration from Santorum and his staff about being forced to address yet another comment that didn't come out of the candidate's mouth.

Santorum denounces woman's comment at gun range

The damage control comes in a week in which Santorum earned no delegates from the Puerto Rican primary and suffered a double-digit percentage-point loss in Illinois.

The distractions impeded Santorum's ability to hit the Romney campaign after a top adviser used the now infamous Etch a Sketch line, suggesting they could erase the policy positions their candidate has been trumpeting in the primary and start over in the general election.

Stumping in the Pelican State the day before the primary, Santorum focused even more attention and fiery rhetoric on Romney than usual.

Santorum tries to erase Romney Etch A Sketch comment

"Now he's running again, as a conservative," he said in Shreveport while shaking an Etch a Sketch. "Now he's for all those things that all those that are voting in Republican primaries want to hear. How many of you believe that that's what he'll stay with?"

But Romney's closest contender remained confident that his luck could soon change in Louisiana, where polls have him with a commanding lead ahead of Saturday's primary. And Santorum remains confident that he will be in the race through the summer conventions.

"I feel very confident that the folks showing up in Tampa are going to be folks who are conservatives and want the choice not someone who doesn't provide any contrasts to President Obama on the biggest issues," he said.