PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A day after Mitt Romney regained some momentum in the Republican presidential contest, rival Rick Santorum has gone on the attack.
Romney won Maine's caucuses just hours after also winning the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington.
The former Massachusetts governor has been painting Santorum as a long-time Washington insider who pursued earmarks for home-state projects. Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Santorum described Romney's criticism as "desperate."
Santorum is shrugging off his third-place finish in Maine's caucuses, where he didn't actively compete, as well as a second-place finish in the straw poll. Santorum says he could do "exceptionally well" in Michigan, where Romney's father served as governor. The Midwestern state and Arizona host Republican presidential nominating contests on Feb. 28.
Ron Paul had a disappointing second-place finish in Maine. He tells CBS' "Face the Nation" there's virtually no difference between Santorum, Romney and Newt Gingrich. Paul says they all represent "the status quo."
215-w-38-(Tim Maguire, AP correspondent, with Former Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa. and Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas)--Mitt Romney's close wins in a GOP conservative straw poll and the Maine caucuses are seen as positive signs by challengers Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. AP correspondent Tim Maguire reports. (12 Feb 2012)
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216-a-09-(Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, presidential candidate, in interview)-"change rather rapidly"-Presidential candidate Ron Paul says he likes his chances in the chase for the GOP nomination. COURTESY: CBS "Face the Nation" ((mandatory on-air credit)) ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (12 Feb 2012)
<<CUT *216 (02/12/12)>> 00:09 "change rather rapidly"
217-a-02-(Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, presidential candidate, in interview)-"beat him too"-GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul says he and Mitt Romney could both take President Barack Obama in November. COURTESY: CBS "Face the Nation" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (12 Feb 2012)
<<CUT *217 (02/12/12)>> 00:02 "beat him too'"
GRAPHICSBANK 1128442: Ron Paul, as 2012 Republican presidential candidate and US Representative of Texas, speaks at a caucus, New Gloucester, Maine, on texture, partial graphic (11 Feb 2012)
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APPHOTO WX110: FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, seen with his Karen, left, addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party in Johnston, Iowa. GOP primary voters have spent the past six weeks lurching toward one candidate and then another in an exercise of political soul-searching that appears far from settled. The next contests, in Arizona and Michigan, aren't until Feb. 28; the party with a reputation for order may have it sorted out after March 6, when 10 states get their say. But that would break sharply with this race's tendency toward uncertainty. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) (4 Jan 2012)
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APPHOTO WX102: FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns Portland, Maine. With nine contests down, Romney leads the delegate hunt, and has both the money and the organization to compete deep into the state-by-state nomination calendar. The next contests, in Arizona and Michigan, aren't until Feb. 28, and the party with a reputation for order may have it sorted out after March 6, when 10 states get their say. But that would break sharply with this race's tendency toward uncertainty. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (10 Feb 2012)
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APPHOTO MERB131: Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, throws balloons from the stage after speaking to supporters following his loss in the Maine caucus to Mitt Romney, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) (11 Feb 2012)
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