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Rick Santorum Tells Voters To Ask Of Candidates: 'Where's Their Soul?'

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MIAMISBURG, Ohio -- Rick Santorum sought Monday to stem the bleeding here in the Buckeye State, hoping to hang on to a lead over Mitt Romney that has showed signs in recent days of slipping away.

"Don't listen to the polls, don't listen to all the media hype and all the things about what this race is about," Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, told a few hundred people inside a Christian school here in a suburb of Dayton.

"I come to the people of Ohio as a candidate who shouldn't be here," he said. "But we're here for a reason."

Santorum repeatedly contrasted himself with former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, who has caught up to Santorum in Ohio polls. Romney did the same thing in the days leading up to last week's primary in Michigan. Romney won the state after originally trailing Santorum.

A loss here on Tuesday would badly damage any chance Santorum still has of upsetting Romney, who leads him in money, states won in the primary contest so far, and delegates.

"Just focus on whether we want a man who can stand up and paint a very different picture for this country ... someone who's willing to go out and talk about all of the issues that are confronting this country, all of the issues, not just how we're going to manage the economy better," Santorum said, in a slap at Romney's laser-like focus on an economic message.

Santorum said the GOP nominee should be someone who can "capture the imagination" of the American people, and he tried turn Romney's enormous financial advantage against him.

"Look into what the candidate's overcome and what they offer to the country, not just how much money they have," Santorum said. "Where's their soul, where's their conviction?"

He also took a veiled shot at Romney's privileged upbringing.

A candidate who grew up "having to fight for everything you got is exactly the kind of person we need to have ... someone who doesn't think you can buy it, someone who knows you can't buy it."

"You gotta earn it," he said.

Facing a number of new polls over the weekend and on Monday morning that show the race tightening, and national polls that show Romney with momentum, Santorum looked back to his surprise win in Iowa on Jan. 3 for inspiration.

"When people say well, what kept you going, it's the idea that this country was worth fighting for, it's worth getting out there and putting everything on the line," he said.

"I walked away from all of the jobs I have and all the money that is. We're living basically just spending down our savings, not necessarily the best thing to do when you have three kids entering college in the next couple of years. But this country is worth it."

Around the Web

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney tied in new Ohio poll - The Washington ...

Rick Santorum not high on Ohio victory odds - NY Daily News

Ohio Stands for Rick Santorum as He and Newt Gingrich Cross ...

Why Rick Santorum's Ohio Delegate Fiasco Could Get Messy - ABC ...

Super Tuesday: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum fight for voters in Ohio ...

Mitt Romney battles Rick Santorum for Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday

Ohio, Rick Santorum and the fight for the middle class (Monday's Trail Mix)

Ohio Republicans See Romney Taking the Buckeye State Lead

NBC News/Marist poll: Santorum, Romney neck and neck in Ohio

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