Rick Santorum pushed his long and deep opposition to President Barack Obama's health-care plan Monday as the defining difference between himself and the two Republican candidates he's trailing in Florida presidential primary polls.

Speaking at a campaign town hall sponsored by the Tri-County Tea Party in Lady Lake, Florida Monday afternoon, Santorum characterized "Obama care" — the nickname used by Republicans and other critics — as the leading edge of liberals' strategy to end freedom in America, and as Obama's greatest weakness in the November election.

And he stressed to almost 400 people who attended his speech at an American Legion Hall that only he — not Mitt Romney nor Newt Gingrich — can make that case without apologizing for past positions.

The former Pennsylvania U.S. senator, who won the Iowa caucuses on a recount but slipped to fourth in New Hampshire and South Carolina, spent more than half his 30-minute speech decrying Obama's national health-care plan — and its requirement that individuals buy insurance — as bad for health care, bad for the economy and bad for freedom.

"I think it is the defining issue in this race. And so I am going to talk about it from the standpoint of how we are the best person to go out and defeat President Obama on the signature issue of his time in office, and the signature issue of government run amok, high taxation, high spending and taking people's freedom away," Santorum told reporters later.

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