Republican rivals clash on economy

Republican rivals clash on economy

MESA, Arizona - Agence France-Presse
Republican rivals clash on economy

Santorum, (L) and Romney (R) talk following a Republican debate. AP photo

Surging Republican hopeful Rick Santorum came under sustained fire from U.S. presidential rivals, including struggling frontrunner Mitt Romney, in a fierce debate ahead of key upcoming polls.

In their last televised face-off before two primary elections next week in Arizona and Michigan -and before so-called “Super Tuesday” on March 6 -- the two men clashed repeatedly, notably on fiscal issues, religion and immigration.

“You’re misrepresenting the facts. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Santorum told Romney during the two-hour debate on Feb. 22 night in Arizona, one of two states holding Republican primaries next Tuesday.

Romney, who is battling to retain his frontrunner status against the Christian conservative, lambasted Santorum’s voting record during his time as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

“While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’,” said Romney, of his own rescue of the 2002 winter Olympics, and Santorum’s backing for a doomed Alaskan infrastructure project.

On religion, Santorum accused Romney of facilitating access to insurance-funded contraception when he was governor of Massachusetts.