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Rick Santorum Goes After Ron Paul Following Big Polling Boost

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- Just hours after a new poll was released showing Rick Santorum surging to third place in Iowa with only six days to go before the caucuses, the GOP hopeful spoke to about 100 supporters and those still making up their mind for almost two hours Wednesday evening.

During the question-and-answer part of the town hall, Santorum was asked about Ron Paul’s support in Iowa, and the former Pennsylvania senator let loose on the Texas congressman.

“Ron Paul says he’s going to eliminate five departments.  Ron Paul passed one bill in 20 years.  What gives you the idea that he can eliminate anything?  I mean, he has absolutely no track record of building any kind of coalition to get anything done anywhere,” Santorum said.  “I understand the appeal that Ron Paul has: it’s simple, it’s short -- but there’s no track record there.”

Santorum also went after Paul on his foreign policy stances, calling him “far to the left of President Obama.”

“I mean he’s out in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party.  Don’t laugh!” Santorum said to the crowd as they began to chuckle, and they immediately got quiet.  “That’s where he is.  He may be left of Dennis Kucinich, okay?  So that’s where he is.  This country is not going to elect Dennis Kucinich to be president of the United States.  I don’t care how much government he wants to cut.

“What people in Iowa like about Ron Paul is all of his economic talk which requires Congress to act of which he has showed no ability to get them to do,” Santorum added.  “What they don’t like about Ron Paul is this craziness about cutting the military in half and getting our troops out of everywhere.  He can do that.  He can actually order that on day one -- all our troops around the world to come home.”

He said the “danger” of Paul’s international policies “should just chill every Iowan.”

“People say, ‘Well he won’t really do that.’  Well he’ll be 78 years old.  How many 78-years-olds say -- after saying this for 30 years -- are going to change their mind?” Santorum asked.  “Let’s just be honest about it.  By then you are sort of set in your ways.  It’s not like this is new, so let’s get serious about what message Iowa is going to send to the country, and the message has to be that we want a responsible conservative.”

Paul is actually 76 years old.

After the event, Santorum told reporters that despite the clear boost in support the CNN/Time poll showed “we have a lot of work to do” and pledged to keep “working hard.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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