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Santorum uses Supreme Court health care hearing to knock Romney

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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Rick Santorum speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

WASHINGTON—On the first day of Supreme Court oral arguments over the federal health care law, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized front-runner Mitt Romney for his support of a state government health care insurance mandate that President Barack Obama says was "the blueprint" for the federal law.

With the court's white columns as a backdrop, Santorum chided Romney for not visiting Washington, D.C., during the oral arguments, saying that his absence shows how Romney is "uniquely unqualified" to argue against the federal health insurance overhaul passed in 2010.

"There's one candidate who is uniquely disqualified to make the case," Santorum said, standing in front of a banner that read "Repeal ObamaRomneyCare." "It's the reason I'm here and he's not. It's the reason I talk about Obamacare and its impact on the economy and fundamental freedom, and Mitt Romney doesn't: because he can't. Because he supported government-run health care as governor of Massachusetts."

[Related: Monday’s audio of the Supreme Court health care law oral arguments] 

Santorum faced a hostile crowd—a majority of those demonstrating outside the court on Monday want it to uphold the law. As he spoke, dozens tried to shout him down, yelling "Health care is a right!" and "Protect our care! Protect the law."A young boy straddling his father's shoulders tried to show support for Santorum by shouting, "Rick! Rick! Rick!"

Santorum ignored the protestors, saying that Romney would not be capable of repealing the law. Romney has vowed to do so if elected.

"If we run this campaign—which I will—on Obamacare, if we make this the central issue of the campaign, and we're successful, there's no doubt that Obamacare will be repealed in one way or another. And that's not going to be the case with Gov. Romney because he can't make it the argument," Santorum said. "Because if he makes it the argument, the Obama machine will turn it right back on him and therefore there won't be the mandate. He may say he wants to repeal Obamacare, but he won't have the mandate for the course of this campaign to be able to win the argument, not just here in Congress but across the country."

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On the campaign trail, Santorum has devoted key portions of his stump speech to arguing against Romney's ability to debate Obama on health care. While campaigning in Wisconsin over the weekend, he called Romney "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama" because of health care.

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