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Santorum condemns president's 'worldview'; Says Obama 'elevates the Earth above man'

Rick Santorum on Sunday condemned what he called President Obama's worldview that "elevates the Earth above man," discouraging increased use of natural resources.

The candidate for the Republican presidential nomination also slammed Obama's health care overhaul for requiring insurers to pay for prenatal tests that, Santorum said, will encourage more abortions.

A day after telling an Ohio audience that Obama's agenda is based on "some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible," Santorum said he wasn't criticizing the president's Christianity.

"I've repeatedly said I don't question the president's faith. I've repeatedly said that I believe the president's Christian," Santorum told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I am talking about his worldview and the way he approaches problems in this country. I think they're different than how most people do in America," he said in the interview.

The former Pennsylvania senator said Obama's environmental policies promote ideas of "radical environmentalists," who, Santorum argues, oppose greater use of the country's natural resources because they believe "man is here to serve the Earth." He said that was the reference he was making Saturday in his Ohio campaign appearance when he denounced a "phony theology."

When pressed by reporters after he made the initial remark, however, Santorum made no mention of the president's environmental policies. Instead, he suggested that Obama practices one of the "different stripes of Christianity."

Sunday morning on CBS, Santorum walked back those comments, but later in the day, he again criticized Obama's "theology" -- with no reference to his environmental policies -- while speaking to more than 2,000 supporters gathered at a suburban Atlanta megachurch.

The president is "trampling on a constitutional right," Santorum said of the Obama administration's recent decision to allow employees of religious schools and hospitals to have birth control covered by their insurance policies.

"It is imposing his ideology on a group of people expressing their theology, their moral code," Santorum told those gathered in First Redeemer Church, a megachurch that hosted then-GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee four years ago.

Obama's campaign said Santorum's initial remarks were another attack on the president's faith by Republican rivals in a nominating contest that has grown increasingly bitter and negative.

"It's just time to get rid of this mind-set in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith," said Robert L. Gibbs, Obama's former White House press secretary, on ABC's "This Week."

"Those days have long passed in our politics. Our problems and our challenges are far too great," Gibbs said.

Santorum said his assertion that Obama's health care overhaul encourages abortions stems from the requirement for insurance companies to pay for prenatal testing, which he said will result in more pregnant women having more procedures. He specified amniocentesis, a procedure that can identify physical problems in the unborn. "The bottom line is a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero, and the customary procedure is to encourage abortion," he said.

A doctor recommended abortion when a sonogram discovered health problems for Santorum's youngest daughter, who was born three years ago with a genetic condition known as Trisomy 18, which typically proves fatal. She has lived longer than most children born with the condition.

Meanwhile, rival candidate Newt Gingrich warned that he and the other GOP hopefuls must win their home-turf contests or face serious questions about continuing in the race.

The first test will come Feb. 28 in the GOP primary in Michigan, where rival Mitt Romney was born and his father was governor.

If Romney loses in Michigan, "I don't see what he says the next morning to his donors to stay in the race," Gingrich told "Fox News Sunday."

But Gingrich also acknowledged that he must win the March 6 vote in Georgia, a state that launched his political career more than 30 years ago. The same, he said, goes for Santorum during the April primary in Pennsylvania.

"If any of the three loses our home state, you have, I think, very, very badly weakened candidacies," Gingrich said. "I was home campaigning for the last two days precisely to say to all of my friends back home, Georgia really matters. You cannot take this for granted." But Gingrich stopped short of saying he would drop out if he lost Georgia, "given the chaos of this race."

The Republicans face a series of nine primaries and four caucuses between now and Super Tuesday on March 6. At stake are 518 delegates, more than three times the number awarded so far.