Santorum Speaks in Akron

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AKRON, Ohio --Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum brought his campaign to northeast Ohio on Saturday.

Speaking at a Lincoln Day dinner sponsored by the Summit County Republican Party, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania told the audience at the Quaker Station, that President Obama’s policies have damaged the economy.

“The debt and the regulation by the federal government are crushing business, crushing our economy, leading to high rates of unemployment and uncertainty in the business community”, said Santorum. “This is the country of Barack Obama.”

The latest Ohio poll shows Santorum leading Mitt Romney in the Buckeye State 36% to 29%. Santorum said he is surging in Ohio because of his conservative record, and because many Republican voters believe he can win in the fall.

Santorum said he believes that with a change in leadership, America is on the verge of a period of growth and prosperity.

He contrasted that view with the Obama administration by stating, “They believe America is tired, that Americans are willing to give up their freedom, a little bit of their money and have government provide and take care of them."

Santorum also criticized President Obama for cutting military spending, while protecting social programs.

In a straw poll of the G-O-P audience that paid $50 to see Santorum speak, he received 74% of the vote.

Outside Quaker Station, several groups protested Santorum’s appearance, including gay rights activists. One protester told Fox 8, “We’re not anti-Republican, we’re just for equality, we’re for gay rights.”

Santorum's visit came one day after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced his support for the GOP candidate.