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Rick Santorum Hits Newt Gingrich For His 'Grandiosity' During Republican Debate (VIDEO)

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Rick Santorum carefully confronts Newt Gingrich on character issues at the Republican presidential candidate debate in Charleston, S.C.
Rick Santorum carefully confronts Newt Gingrich on character issues at the Republican presidential candidate debate in Charleston, S.C.

At a moment after a break in Thursday's Republican debate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got asked about Newt Gingrich's call for him to quit the race. With neither flourish nor fireworks, Santorum took apart the former speaker of the House, citing his temperament and lack of discipline. The event, hosted by CNN, took place at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C.

Santorum began by giving Gingrich credit for, and then stabbing him with his "grandiosity." He reminded the audience that mere weeks ago, Gingrich declared himself the winner of the nomination as anointed by destiny. "That's what we're seeing here," said Santorum, referring to Gingrich's demand that he drop out of the race.

Santorum had a pretty basic case to make. He won Iowa. He bested Gingrich in New Hampshire.

Gingrich had enjoyed significant advantages in New Hampshire -- the endorsement of the Manchester Union-Leader, for example. Santorum came into New Hampshire 10 points behind him. And he beat him. "I'm 2 and 0," said Santorum, referring to his primary record versus Newt.

Santorum swung that critique around and hit Gingrich for being unmoored mentally. "These are not cogent thoughts," Santorum said. "That was a worrisome moment ... We can't afford that in our nominee.

"I'm not the most flamboyant candidate. I don't get the biggest applause lines. But I'm steady," Santorum said.

Gingrich did what he could in his defense, citing the work he'd done as House speaker, refusing to apologize for thinking "grand thoughts" because America was a great nation.

But Santorum upped the volume: "I served with him, I was there, I knew what the problems were. An idea a minute, no discipline."

"You have to admit that the freshman Congress did something that you didn't do," said Santorum, who then went into a lengthy reverie over the 1992 congressional check-kiting scandal -- commonly referred to as "Rubbergate" -- that was dragged into the open by the "Gang of Seven," of which Santorum was a member. "You knew about it," Santorum said, "because you told me you knew about it."

He went on to tell Gingrich that he lacked the courage to do something about it. (Also, the fact that Gingrich himself had "22 overdrafts, including a $9,463 check to the Internal Revenue Service," had a lot to do with it.)

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