NASHUA, N.H. — Texas Rep. Ron Paul on Friday dismissed Republican presidential rival Rick Santorum as being insufficiently conservative, predicting GOP voters would cool on the former Pennsylvania senator once they learn of his support for spending programs in Washington.
Paul spoke to reporters after a boisterous rally at an airport hangar. It was his first event in the state after taking two days off following the Iowa caucuses, where he placed third
Santorum has come under renewed scrutiny after he battled Mitt Romney to a virtual tie for first place in Iowa. Santorum has defended many of his votes on spending in Washington, saying he was representing the interests of his state's citizens.
Santorum served two terms in the House and two in the Senate. He was soundly defeated for re-election by Democrat Bob Casey in 2006.
Asked if Santorum represented his biggest threat, Paul laughed and said "hardly."
"He brags about being for a balanced budget amendment, but never did anything about it," Paul said of Santorum. "He voted 4 or 5 times to raise the debt ceiling. He voted to double the size of the Department of Education."
Earlier, Paul's son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, complained about excess spending by both parties in Washington and noted that "a guy who did pretty well in Iowa" with the initials "RS" had voted for many of those programs.
Ron Paul also distanced himself from an ad run by some of his supporters suggesting rival Jon Huntsman had "Chinese values." Huntsman served as ambassador to China and has an adopted daughter from the country.
"I understand it's an ugly ad and I've disavowed it," Paul said, calling the ad "way out of order."
He added, "Obviously all campaigns have to suffer these consequences when someone goes up and puts the candidate's name on there and you get bad press for it."
Paul has a full schedule of campaign events in New Hampshire, which holds its primary Tuesday.