- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2012

Rick Santorum said Monday that if he wins the presidency he will not blame his predecessor but will take responsibility for the country from the first day - contrasting himself with President Obama, who he said demonizes his political opponents “by name.”

“He blames everybody but himself for any problem that occurs under his watch,” Mr. Santorum said. “I hope never, after I am president of the United States, to mention the name Barack Obama for any problem the country has.”

Speaking at a packed cafe in Polk City, where he made his first stop Monday, a day before Iowa caucus voters kick off the nomination process, the former Pennsylvania senator said it was “beneath the dignity” of the president to blame problems on others.

He also sought to discount the experience of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of his opponents in Iowa who cites his time helming a company as a key part of his credentials. Mr. Santorum said the country doesn’t need a CEO but someone who’s ready to lead on national military issues.

“We are not looking for a chief executive officer for this country. We’re looking for a commander in chief,” he said.

As he surges in the polls, Mr. Santorum has become a target for his opponents.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry both have accused him of supporting pork-barrel spending during his time in Washington. They also said his support for pro-choice Sen. Arlen Specter in a bruising 2004 GOP primary in Pennsylvania meant Mr. Specter was in the Senate in 2010, having switched parties to become a Democrat and provide the 60th vote to pass Mr. Obama’s health care bill.

Mr. Santorum also is trying to push back against questions from voters that he’s not electable, arguing his lengthy legislative experience is actually a plus given his record working in Congress on military and other conservative issues.

“We’re looking for someone who has experience, someone who can lead our military, but also someone who can lead in convincing the American public and the Congress of the things that are necessary to transform this country. That’s not what CEOs do. CEOs assign people to work for them. I can tell you, as a senator, I did not work for the president.”

Voters over the past five decades have seemed to favor candidates from the ranks of governors or vice presidents, with the exception of Mr. Obama, who won office after less than four years in the Senate. Political analysts say the role of legislator is markedly different from that of an executive, which explains voters’ choices.

This year, that would seem to favor Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney.

Mr. Santorum has emerged in the past few days as a candidate who potentially could unify conservatives searching for an alternative to Mr. Romney, and his performances on the campaign trail have been strong.

In Polk City, he fielded 10 questions that covered everything from immigration to a balanced budget amendment.

He said his first executive order would likely be to end any federal funding for abortions.

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