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Santorum Reasserts Himself in Florida Debate

By Scott Conroy - January 27, 2012

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One of Santorum’s most memorable lines came when he tried to showcase whatever harmony still exists among the remaining GOP candidates -- a tactic that Gingrich had used to great effect during his initial rise last fall -- after Romney and Gingrich got into yet another tussle over their past employment and personal finances.

“Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies -- and that's not the worst thing in the world?” Santorum said. “And that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard and he's going out and working hard? And you guys should leave that alone and focus on the issues.”

But it wasn’t all good will for Santorum. Far from it.

Throughout the night, he differentiated himself from his competitors by tapping into his connection with blue-collar Republicans, noting that he would not lower the top marginal tax rates as much as his competitors would.

“I wish I made as much money as Mitt Romney,” Santorum joked at one point.

Low on resources and way down in the polls with just five days to go before Florida voters cast their ballots, Santorum’s task of becoming a real threat here remains a decidedly challenging one.

But his performance on Thursday night may have at least earned him an opportunity to remain a critical factor in the race going forward. 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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