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Santorum Blames Recession on High Gas Prices

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- Rick Santorum told an audience Monday that the 2008 recession was caused not by unsustainable housing prices or reckless lending practices, but by high gas prices and Americans who could not pay their mortgages.

"We need to look at the situation of gas prices today. We went into a recession in 2008 because of gasoline prices," Santorum said to an enthusiastic crowd at a hotel. "The bubble burst in housing because people couldn't pay their mortgages because we're looking at four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline. And look at what happened, economic decline."

After his rally, which was packed with families with their children, Santorum said he did not misspeak when he was asked to explain his comments. He said it was a "factor" in the recession and housing bubble.

"Energy prices were spiking in the summer of 2008 and that was a factor," Santorum told reporters.

Santorum was giving one of his last pitches to Michiganders who vote Tuesday, telling them to "stand up." He's head-to-head in polls in Michigan, despite Romney being born and raised in the state and Santorum having none of the organization the former Massachusetts governor has.

The former Pennsylvania senator said he is going to "keep working hard" here and "do the best we can," but he's clearly buoyed by giving his rival such chase in his home state.

"I think the fact that we are doing as well as we are is pretty big deal in this state," Santorum said.

He went after Romney, saying it was a "joke" that the former Massachusetts governor and his super PAC are running ads against him in Michigan. He told Michigan voters they have the opportunity to "stop the joke."

Romney's super PAC, "Restore our Future," has spent $2,517,307 opposing both Newt Gingrich and Santorum. Santorum's super PAC, "The Red, White, and Blue Fund," is spending $1,281,500 on ads.

Santorum got a huge applause line and calls of "Replace him!" when he told the crowd that if President Obama was "at the (nation's) founding he would have written a Declaration of Dependence, not Independence."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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