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Romney, Gingrich court conservatives

Republican presidential hopefuls are in Washington to try and persuade conservatives that they're the right person to face President Obama this November. Mitt Romney emphasized his conservative credentials, explaining to the conference that he'd come to those beliefs as a businessman frustrated by bureacracy and regulation. SOUNDBITE: Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, Saying: "I spent twenty-five years balancing budgets, eliminating waste, and by the way, keeping away from government as humanly possible. I did some things that conservatism was designed for. I started new services, and turn around broken ones, and I am not ashamed to say I was successful at doing it." Once the frontrunner, his campaign was dealt a serious blow this week by religious conservative Rick Santorum whose won three state caucuses. The former Senator from Pennsylvania stressed his Catholic faith and attacked SOUNDBITE: Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum saying: "We have seen the President of the United States not only tell you what kind of insurance coverage you should have, how much you would be fine if you don't, but now is telling the Catholic Church that they are forced to pay for things that are against their basis tenants and teachings against their first amendment right." Santorums comments came on the same day the White House announced it was revising its policy so that religious organizations would not be required to offer free birth control to employees. If elected, Gingrich promised conservatives he would repeal 40% of Obama administration's initiatives. SOUNDBITE: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich saying: "The number one issue in the fall election will be --- a paycheck president versus a foodstamp president. I believe we will that fight. I worked with President Reagan, and in his eight years we created 16 million jobs." The former president --- a hero to many conservatives has been a recurring theme in Gingrich's stump speeches. Santorum's wins this week have been a gamechanger, sending a clear message to Gingrich that campaigning as the alternative to Romney will not be enough to secure the support of conservatives. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.

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