During his speech Thursday night to Republicans in Davenport, Iowa, Rick Santorum disputed popular conservative pundit Ann Coulter's recent criticism of his record on immigration.
"Tell Ann Coulter, next time you see her, get her facts straight," the former Pennsylvania senator told an audience of more than 200 at the Center for Active Seniors.
Arguing on behalf of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in her syndicated column Wednesday, Coulter portrayed Santorum as soft on illegal immigration, citing his vote against the so-called "E-Verify" measure to provide automatic electronic verification of workers' immigration status. But Santorum said that he voted against "E-Verify" in 2006 because it was part of a measure sponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy that would have provided amnesty to illegals.
Asked after the speech about his criticism of Coulter, Santorum replied: "Why would Ann Coulter criticize me for voting against the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill? I mean, Ann, should I have voted for amnesty? Should I have voted for comprehensive immigration reform? Because if that's what you're saying, then, doesn't sound like you're the real conservative here. I think when Jim DeMint and every conservative in the United States Senate voted against the McCain-Kennedy bill -- yes, we voted against E-Verify, but we voted against a pretty bad bill that I think, at least you said you were against."
Recent polls of Iowa Republicans, reportedly including internal polls conducted by rival campaigns, have shown support for Santorum surging in the closing days before next Tuesday's first-n-the-nation caucuses.