Atlanta (CNN) - The day after an embarrassing defeat in a trio of early voting states, Mitt Romney painted his GOP rivals as standard bearers of a Republican party that "lost its way" in recent years in Washington.
The GOP candidate, faced with a pair of doggedly persistent opponents in former Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, pointed to both men's experience in the nation's capital as a disqualifying factor.
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"I think a lot of us feel that the Republican party lost its way in the past," Romney said, making reference to the tea party movement, which he said was fueled by a frustration with over-spending in Washington. "Republicans spent too much money, borrowed too much money, earmarked too much, and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have to be held accountable."
Romney said he was the only Republican candidate who could satisfy voters' desire for change in the nation's capital, charging his rivals had "acted like Democrats" by spending too many federal dollars.
"In this race, I'm the only guy that hasn't spent time in Washington," he told reporters on an airport tarmac in Atlanta. "And Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich, they are the very Republicans who acted like Democrats. And when Republicans act like Democrats, they lose."
The proof, he said, was evident in both men's records. Santorum lost his seat in a double-digit defeat in Pennsylvania, while Romney said Gingrich "had to resign" his post as House speaker.
Romney was speaking to the press corps covering his campaign for the first time in week after his stunning losses to Santorum in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado Tuesday night.
He insisted throughout the "long process" of the GOP primary campaign, he would accumulate enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Asked whether the Tuesday losses meant Romney had not won over the conservative bloc so crucial to his success, Romney said his wins in Florida, Nevada and New Hampshire proved he had conservative support.
The former Massachusetts governor also fought back against charges from both his Democratic and Republican opponents on his stance on mandating emergency contraception in Massachusetts.
Romney said he had "fought to remove" a law that required all hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to women who were raped.
"I have steadfastly tried to honor and respect religious conscience," he said.
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Sen. Santorum has two things the other candidates don't have, and that includes President Obama: looks and youth. Those two assets put JFK and Bill Clinton into office by the "women vote"; you can't win an election without it.
Santorum was shooting photos today with some ladies, two of which were blonde knockouts; that photo alone tells why he'll sweep from now on. He's got the ladies' vote and nobody's going to take it away from him.
Game over come november...Good bye Gop
Ron Paul – if you're listening, please run as an independent. Clearly this Republiclowns are all about themselves and not about getting the country on the right track. I'm starting to believe we might just need a 3rd or 4th party. This bilateral system no longer works. Congress approval has now dropped to 10% and the future doesn't look great for us in the middle class. Help!!!!
Romney hides his money in the Cayman Islands.Newt cheats on all his wives.Santorum the religious fanatic forgets that Jesus was a "socialist".Paul does't have a chance. What's a Republican to do? Obama the only one with integrity. 4 more years!
And not a single Ron Paul was mentioned. For once it makes sense, at least for this article.
Romney, here's a clue. Attacking the voters you are trying to appeal to, by calling the far-right "Democrats", isn't going to make you any more popular.
That said, keep on truckin' Mitt.
"...trying to divide America" in Romney's own words.
More hypocrisy. Sad.
The reason that Mitt hasn't been part of Washington is that he couldn't get himself elected! That's some accomplishment to put on one's resume.
Romney is a Morman that acts like a normal person.