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Rick Santorum Argues His Own Case Outside Supreme Court

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Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks outside the US Supreme Court to speak about the case currently being heard by the justices. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks outside the US Supreme Court to speak about the case currently being heard by the justices. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum appeared outside the Supreme Court on Monday as the justices heard arguments over whether President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s health care system is constitutional.

Santorum pressed his own argument that he’s the best candidate — and rival Mitt Romney is the worst — to challenge Obama on the health care issue in the fall.

“There’s one candidate who’s uniquely disqualified to make the case. That’s the reason I’m here and he’s not,” Santorum told reporters outside the Supreme Court as protesters behind him chanted, “Health care is a right.”

“This is the most important issue in this election,” he said.

While Romney says he would fight to repeal Obama’s health care law, Santorum says Romney essentially is disqualified because he put in place a similar law in Massachusetts when he was governor, including a requirement that all residents buy health insurance.

“This was a disaster in Massachusetts,” Santorum said.

Public polls, however, suggest that the vast majority of Massachusetts residents support the state health care system, which Romney signed into law in 2006.

A similar so-called “individual mandate” in Obama’s law has drawn the ire of conservatives, including Santorum. And that’s a key argument for opponents who this week are asking the high court to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

“If we make this the central issue in the campaign and we’re successful, there’s no doubt that Obamacare will be repealed in one form or another,” Santorum said. “That not going to be the case with Gov. Romney.”

Santorum won Louisiana’s primary Saturday but continues to lag behind Romney.

Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Romney, dismissed the comments as coming from a candidate who “is becoming increasingly shrill as his campaign hopes fade.”

In a rare, but not altogether unprecedented move, the Supreme Court released full audio and transcripts of Monday’s hearing shortly after they concluded.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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