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Mr. Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch-A-Sketch candidate for the future.”

The remark reignited criticism of Mr. Romney as the type of politician who will say or do anything to win.

Mr. Romney, who made no public appearances Thursday, issued a statement expressing disappointment “that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.”

“This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America,” he said. “Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

Rival Newt Gingrich tweeted: “Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.”

IRS

Chief: Tea party groups not political targets

The head of the Internal Revenue Service has told Congress his agency isn’t denying tax-exempt status to tea party groups because of their political views.

Several of the conservative groups have accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

But IRS chief Douglas H. Shulman told members of a House panel that his agency prides itself on being nonpolitical. He says the answers the IRS is seeking are typical of the questions that it asks when determining whether a group is entitled to be tax exempt.

After the Ways and Means Committee hearing, Republican Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr. of Louisiana told reporters he was dissatisfied with Mr. Shulman’s response, saying the groups think their First Amendment rights are being violated.

SENATE

U.S. to OK Egypt aid despite lawmakers’ concerns

A top Senate Democrat says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will use her waiver authority to release at least a portion of $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, who wrote the section of the law imposing conditions on the aid, said he was disappointed in the decision, which he learned from the State Department on Thursday.

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