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WASHINGTON – Surging GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., spoke to an enthusiastic audience in a packed-to-overflowing auditorium at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, promising he will continue to openly state his conservative principles while running for president.

“As conservatives we lost heart when we listened to those voices who say we must compromise as conservatives to win,” he noted.

“But we have learned our lesson. We will no longer abandon the principles that made this country great for a hollow victory in November.”

Santorum told the CPAC audience that, “As conservatives and tea party folks, we are not just wings of the Republican Party, we are the Republican Party.”

Santorum won the Iowa caucuses, then fell back into the pack of GOP candidates for several weeks. Then in the last week he surged forward to claim victory in caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

Arguing that it will take bold ideas and a sharp contrast to the policies of the Obama administration to win the 2012 presidential election, Santorum repeatedly asserted he was the best-qualified candidate, largely because he would not compromise his beliefs simply to gain electoral advantage.

“As president, I will surround myself with people who share our values – people who have made this country great, leaders of the conservative movement.”

Santorum argued the 2012 election is about “big issues,” insisting that Obamacare was issue No. 1.

“The Obama administration has shoved Obamacare down the throats of the American people,” he said. “But when our rights come from government, not from God, government can take those rights away.”

He railed against Obamacare, insisting the program is designed to extend government control over the lives and freedoms of individual Americans, forcing Americans to buy health insurance whether they want it or not.

“This is the kind of coercion we can expect under Obamacare,” he said. “It’s not just about freedom of speech or freedom or religion, it’s about government controlling the lives of Americans and it has to stop.”

He pointed to his record supporting individual health care tax-favored health accounts, in contrast to candidate Mitt Romney, whom Santorum called the “grandfather of Obamacare.”

He noted that Romney and Newt Gingrich favored the bank bailouts which he asserted were the prelude to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill – a bill Santorum argued the Obama administration has used to extend government control over the banking and financial services industries.

“We need conservatives now to rally for a conservative candidate to go into the conservative base to beat Barack Obama in November.”

Santorum argued that the goal of the Obama administration is to extend government control over every aspect of American life – not just in the field of health care, but also with the EPA unleashed to control energy on the unproven scientific assertion that global warming is related to the burning of carbon fuels.

“The Obama administration scares Americans in order to gain control,” he said.

Santorum promised to roll back government if he were elected president.

He pledged to cut $5 trillion from the federal budget in five years, spending less each year until the budget is balanced.

He acknowledged that creating jobs was of paramount importance for the next four years, but he argued that the main goal of Republicans in the 2012 election has to be to reduce the size and scope of the federal government that has expanded dramatically and exponentially under the Obama administration.

Santorum concluded his plea to be the Republican presidential candidate by reaffirming his belief that the founding documents of the Untied States identified that the rights of Americans come from God, not from the State.

“The job of government is to protect those God-given inalienable rights, not to extend government control into every aspect of American life,” he said.

“You were blessed to be born in a time where America needs you,” he said, addressing directly the conservative CPAC audience.

“I am asking for your honor – to put your honor on the line,” he said. “This is our watch. We are stewards of a great heritage.”


Related stories:

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Bachmann scolds Obama for snubbing Israel

McConnell: Obama using radical tactics to divide America

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