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Rick Santorum: John McCain Lost Because He's Not Conservative

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Rick Santorum is looking to undermine Mitt Romney's electability argument, claiming that only a conservative candidate can win against President Obama.

Santorum told a crowd in Pasco, Washington, that he can succeed where establishment Republicans like John McCain did not. CNN has comments from his speech:

We want a conservative nominee because that's our best chance of winning. Look at the races in the last 30 years, we nominated a moderate: [John] McCain, [Bob] Dole, Gerald Ford. When George [H.W.] Bush ran for re-election back in 1992, after raising taxes and increasing spending. They all ran as moderates. We all lost.

Every time we've run as a conservative, we've won. Why? Because Americans want a choice. If it's a difference between somebody, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, you know what, this country is going to probably going to stick with the person they know. We need to have a sharp contrast. Someone who paints a very different vision for America.

While Santorum's presidential campaign has been anything but moderate, the former Pennsylvania senator was not always so conservative. In the 1990s, he cast himself as a "progressive conservative," defended labor unions and arts funding and voted against a measure to identify gays in the military.

Last week HuffPost reported on comments Santorum made in 1995, when his stance on abortion was considerably more moderate than it is now.

"I was basically pro-choice all my life, until I ran for Congress," he told Philadelphia magazine. "But it had never been something I thought about."

His campaign responded that he "never held a pro-choice position." Santorum now opposes prenatal testing on the basis that it encourages abortions, and he recently encouraged pregnant rape victims to "make the best out of a bad situation."

McCain and Dole have endorsed Romney, and George H.W. Bush said the former Massachusetts governor is the "best choice."

Santorum recently told FOX News that he regrets endorsing Romney in 2008, but that he only did it because the alternative was McCain.

"I supported Mitt Romney when it was down to Romney and McCain," Santorum said. "I knew John McCain, I knew what kind of conservative he would be so I landed with Romney."

McCain has admitted that he and Santorum struggled with "strong differences" in the Senate.

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