CUMMING, Georgia — Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum accused President Barack Obama of advocating a “world view” that is different from that of most Americans as he accused the Democratic incumbent of promoting the ideas of “radical environmentalists.”
Obama’s campaign in turn Sunday criticized the former Pennsylvania senator for unfairly attacking the president’s faith as the Republican nominating contest has pivoted from emphasizing the economy to social issues.
Santorum has surged past Mitt Romney in recent opinion polls of Republican voters after winning contests in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri on Feb. 7. Several polls have shown Santorum leading in Romney’s native state of Michigan, where his father served as governor.
The primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28 mark the end of a lull in the state-by-state contests to choose delegates to the party’s national convention in late August in Tampa, Florida.
Though Santorum has climbed in the polls, Romney is considered the Republican front-runner nationwide, with more delegates from state-by-state voting that are necessary to claim the party’s nomination.
The multimillionaire former private equity firm CEO also has far more money and a much stronger campaign organization than Santorum.
The two other rivals for the Republican Party nomination are former speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and the libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Meanwhile, Obama has seen his ratings in the polls steadily rising as the economy — by far his biggest weakness — continues to show signs of a recovery.
Santorum’s attacks on Obama reflect an effort to position himself as the leading conservative alternative to Romney by appealing to the large bloc of religious voters and supporters of the small government, anti-tax tea party movement. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has struggled to win over the party’s conservative base which is wary of his shifting positions on health care reform. — AP