NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Monday slammed rival Rick Santorum as a “big labor Republican,” accusing him of siding with unions over Memphis-based FedEx when the Senate grappled with a labor dispute in the 1990s.

Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman and House Speaker, is hoping to revive his struggling campaign in the South, and he tailored his message Monday to Republican voters in Tennessee. Although polls show a close race between Santorum and Mitt Romney, Gingrich challenged the former Pennsylvania senator and his conservative credentials.

“I think there are profound reasons that Rick lost the Senate race by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history in 2006 and I think it’s very hard for him to carry that all the way to the general,” Gingrich said. “Then he comes South and you take the case right here. He voted for the unions over FedEx. I suspect most folks in the state don’t know that. But in fact he was a big labor Republican in Pennsylvania and I suspect when you get to Memphis and you say to people, `Gee, this is a guy who wanted to guarantee that FedEx give into the unions.’ Santorum won’t be as popular the following morning.”

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