Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann said Thursday that social conservatives don’t have to settle for a nominee who does not share their values, and rival Mitt Romney said the party should nominate someone from the private sector – double-team criticism of front-runner Rick Perry.

Romney and Bachmann opened a forum on faith and freedom ahead of Thursday night’s televised GOP debate with sharp criticism of their chief rival. Other competitors were following at the event tailored to the religious voters who are a key part of the party’s base of support.

Bachmann said 2012 is a time for the GOP to nominate someone “who is a true social conservative.” She didn’t mention her rivals by name, but she has criticized Perry’s positions on illegal immigration and mandated vaccinations.

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