The Ticket

Santorum says Bachmann is ‘playing politics’ on the debt debate

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Santorum and Bachmann (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Rick Santorum hasn't been shy about attacking his GOP rivals, and now he's taking aim at Michele Bachmann, suggesting she's more interested in "playing politics" than offering leadership on the debt ceiling debate.

"We have the president of the United States scaring seniors by saying they might not receive their Social Security checks. We have Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanting to cede authority to the president, and we have Michele Bachmann playing politics instead of providing real leadership in the debt limit debate," Santorum said in a statement to Politico's Dan Hirschhorn.

Santorum's statement is a tad unusual, given there's little difference in where he and Bachmann stand on the debt debate.  Both have signed Jim DeMint's"Cut, Cap and Balance" pledge, which says the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised without serious cuts in federal spending. But Bachmann, who signed the pledge Monday, added a caveat to her pledge calling for a full repeal of President Obama's health care law.

It's the first time Santorum has explicitly criticized Bachmann and comes just days after Tim Pawlenty launched an attack of his own, questioning whether she's experienced enough to be president. It's no secret why Bachmann has suddenly become a target. The tea party favorite is inching up in 2012 polls, and with Mitt Romney skipping next month's Iowa straw poll, she's become the candidate to beat.

Trailing in the polls and in fundraising, Santorum has aggressively challenged his 2012 rivals, trashing Mitt Romney over his health care plan and criticizing Jon Huntsman's stance on abortion.

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