Rick Santorum an Attack Target For GOP Rivals

Romney and Paul attack Santorum's conservative cred.

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Now it's Rick Santorum's turn to take a lump or two.

Because of his big victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri Tuesday, Santorum is becoming the main target of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination as they try to slow his momentum. Former Massaschusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had been considered the front-runner until Santorum's surge, says the former Pennsylvania senator's commitment to conservative principles isn't as strong and consistent as Santorum has suggested.

[Obama Pollster: Republicans Losing Confidence.]

Campaigning in Atlanta, Romney said Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich "spent a lot of time in Washington, and during that time, they spent a lot more money than they took in…Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich, they are the very Republicans who acted like Democrats, and when Republicans act like Democrats, they lose."

Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul issued separate critiques of Santorum for opposing "right-to-work" legislation that prohibits making union membership or union dues a requirement for employment.

Paul's latest television ad singles out Santorum for being a "counterfeit conservative who opposes right-to-work, massively increased spending, and funded Planned Parenthood."

[Rick Santorum's Triple-Header Turns Race Upside Down—Again.]

For his part, Santorum said in a CNN interview, "We definitely are the campaign right now with the momentum." He told a group of pastors in Texas, "The gift of being underestimated is a wonderful gift." And he said Romney's position on healthcare policy is the same as President Obama's.

"I know what's coming next," Santorum wrote in a fund-raising E-mail to potential donors Wednesday. "I saw what Mitt Romney and his team did to Newt Gingrich after he won South Carolina," a reference to Romney's huge negative advertising blitz. "They're going to come after us now," Santorum added.

A big factor will be how much money Santorum can raise in the wake of his trifecta. That remains to be seen.

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