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Home / Home news / Close in latest poll, Santorum pitches candidacy to Arizonans

Close in latest poll, Santorum pitches candidacy to Arizonans

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses a Republican luncheon in Phoenix on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. (Cronkite News Service photo)

PHOENIX – With polls showing him trailing front-runner Mitt Romney only slightly in Arizona, Rick Santorum told an audience here Tuesday that his consistent support of smaller government makes him the best GOP candidate to take on President Barack Obama.

“We need to take everything from food stamps to Medicaid to housing programs to education training programs, we need to cut them, cap them, freeze them, send them to the states, saying that there has to be a time limit and a work requirement,” he said.

Addressing the Maricopa County Republican Committee Lincoln Day Luncheon at the El–Zharibah Shrine Auditorium, Santorum said Obama’s policies roll back individual liberties.

“President Obama says, ‘I’m going to give you the right to health care, just give me your money, give me your freedom and we will provide for you,’” Santorum said. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away.”

Santorum accused Obama of trying to overthrow the nation’s founding principles as codified in the U.S. Constitution, pointing to the president’s January appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the Senate wasn’t in session.

“In the case of President Obama, we’ll just run roughshod over the Constitution and do whatever we want with it, which is what he’s done with these recess appointments lately,” he said.

With GOP candidates set to debate Wednesday evening in Mesa and the state’s primary a week away, two polls showed Santorum close behind Romney. Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, had Romney with 36 percent to Santorum’s 33 percent, while a Time/CNN/ORC poll had Romney leading Santorum 36 percent to 32 percent.

Though Santorum made no mention of his rivals, he called for Arizonans to “speak loudly” at the polls while their state struggles with foreclosures, unemployment and illegal immigration.

“Your moment is coming,” he said. “It’s coming first a week from today.”

Noel Kasper, a tea party supporter from Sun City, said he plans to vote for Santorum.

“I want to hear more from him about the illegal immigration, but I expect to hear good things,” he said.

Fran Nile, who volunteers at the Maricopa County Republican Committee headquarters in Sun City, said Arizona would benefit from Santorum’s ideas.

“He believes the way we want to believe,” she said.

Wednesday events:

• 9:30 a.m.: Rally for Mitt Romney, Tri-City Christian Academy, Chandler.
• 11 a.m.: Rally for Rick Santorum, Sabbar Shrine, Tucson.
• 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: GOP presidential debate, Mesa Arts Center.

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