• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Santorum poses challenge to Romney in home state of Michigan

February 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
In the race for the Republican nomination for president, is candidate Mitt Romney in danger of losing his home state of Michigan to Rick Santorum? Now eight days from the crucial primary, Santorum is jumping higher in the polls and turning his attack toward President Obama.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum led Mitt Romney Monday by 10 points in the latest Gallup poll. Santorum is even ahead in Romney's home state of Michigan. Romney accused Santorum Monday of spending like a Democrat. Santorum accused President Obama of trying to control lives through fear.

Santorum then went to Michigan, which holds its primary next week. If Santorum beats Mitt Romney in his native state it could cause Romney some lasting harm as he tries to win the Republican nomination.

Santorum didn't mention Romney as he focused on Obama and raised two issues close to most Americans.

"These skyrocketing gas prices may put a halt to the growing economy, such as it is," said Santorum. "It's not going to take much to slow down this little train of an economy that Obama's got going."

In recent days Santorum has criticized prenatal testing for pregnant women, questioned the usefulness of public education and questioned Obama's theology.

"He's out there trying to abuse the Earth, where of course we believe that man has dominion over the Earth and is the steward of the Earth," said Santorum.

In Cincinnati, Romney wasn't reluctant to take on his Republican rival. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, attacked Santorum's voting record in the U.S. Senate. Romney says he would cut the budget by giving control of Medicaid and food stamps back to states.

"One of the people I'm running against, Senator Santorum, goes to Washington, calls himself a budget hawk, then after he's been there a while, he says he's no longer a budget hawk," said Romney.

Romney accuses Santorum of voting to raise the nation's debt ceiling in the senate five times without demanding cuts in spending.

"During his time in the Senate, only two terms, the size of the federal government grew 80 percent," said Romney. "When Republicans go to Washington and spend like Democrats you're going to have a lot of spending."

Romney has the advantage in Michigan with money and organization. But Santorum has been hitting the right notes lately with Michigan voters.

Two other Republican candidates have dropped in the polls: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third place, but he insists he's not leaving the race.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul holds onto fourth place in the Republican campaign. Paul has always said he's in it to the end.