Santorum on Romney: ‘You Can’t Trust Him’

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By the CNN Political Unit

Ballwin, Missouri (CNN) — Rick Santorum assailed rival Mitt Romney on the stump in Missouri Saturday, proclaiming the former Massachusetts governor untrustworthy for what he said was past support of government-run health care.

“He put forward the bill that was the model for Obamacare — and then advocated that at the federal level. And then denied that he did it,” Santorum told a packed room at a police station in Ballwin. “Not only was his policy bad, you can’t trust him to tell the truth about what he advocated. Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t give the most important issue away in this election.”

Missouri holds GOP caucuses Saturday, though no winner will be announced since the state party won’t conduct a presidential straw poll. In February the state held a non-binding primary, which Santorum won. The former Pennsylvania senator was the only Republican candidate campaigning in Missouri Saturday.

Speaking to a crowd of about 120 people, Santorum slammed Romney for the Massachusetts health care law he passed while governor of the state, saying it spoke to a non-conservative record.

“The best chance to win is to make this election about clear contrasts and big things,” Santorum said. “And simply — let me just lay it out. There’s only one candidate in this race who can do that. The other candidates are — and one candidate in particular, Gov. Romney, is uniquely disqualified.”

Santorum pointed out his frequent attacks on President Barack Obama’s health care plan, saying Romney couldn’t criticize the president since his own Massachusetts plan was so similar.

“The problem is, the Republicans in this country are thinking about putting someone who has the same positions as President Obama up. If this election is about Tweedledum and Tweedledee, we lose,” Santorum said.

Pointing to a caustic environment in Washington, D.C., Santorum asserted Republicans should nominate a candidate with a strong will to stand up for conservative principles, implying Romney’s record was inconsistent.

“We need someone who’s got principles, who hasn’t been on every side of every issue — will stand tall and stand firm for the principles that made this country great,” Santorum said.

He added that the best leaders aren’t “a group of elites from the best schools, well bred, that are going to make decisions for us because we are incapable of freedom.”

Mitt Romney’s campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul characterized Santorum’s attacks as compensation for his own record’s shortcomings.

“Rick Santorum is lashing out at Mitt Romney because he realizes voters know he can’t be a part of the solution in Washington since he is part of the problem,” Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul said. “Four years ago, when he was speaking candidly, he said Mitt Romney would ‘stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear.’ In comparison, Sen. Santorum admitted he ‘took one for the team’ in Washington by voting against those principles. This is yet another case of Sen. Santorum abandoning principle for his own political advantage.”

— CNN’s Shannon Travis contributed to this report.