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Santorum goes after Bachmann

Of the Republican presidential candidates, the only one who has not seen a significant bump in his poll numbers this year is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

With time running out (the Iowa caucuses are 20 days away!), Santorum is trying to gain support by taking it away from the candidate who has emerged as his leading competitor in the race to win social conservative voters — Michele Bachmann.

Because the two are so alike politically, it's tough for Santorum to attack Bachmann on the issues. Instead, his biggest knock against her is that she's not prepared to be president simply because she's served four years in the House of Representatives.

Here's what he said about Bachmann, per Politico:

"Only four years in the House. I served four years in the House. I wasn't ready to be president after four years in the House of Representatives... The minority in the House is about as much Siberia as there is in Washington D.C. …

Michele represents one of the most Republican districts in the state of Minnesota. She's had a tough time winning those districts every time.  It's not like she's ever had any record of success of attracting the kind of voters we need if we're going to win this."

Bachmann and Santorum are alike in both their politics and their tactics. Both are social conservatives who are looking to contrast their consistent conservatism with the two Republican front-runners, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and they've both made Iowa their home in the lead-up to the caucuses (the only candidate to visit the state more than Bachmann is Santorum). But Bachmann's message has resonated a bit more with caucus-goers than Santorum  — the latest polls out of Iowa show her leading Santorum by about 3 percent on average.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com

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