MYRTLE BEACH – Rick Santorum had this advice for tea party members from across South Carolina today: “Don’t settle for less than what America needs.”

While not mentioning any of his Republican presidential rivals by name, the former Pennsylvania senator described himself as a “conviction conservative, someone who is not just conservative on one issue and not just for one time.”

Santorum spent much of his 20 minutes before the state tea party convention praising the movement and talking about the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and how Americans’ rights are given by God, not by government.

Santorum said he is not without flaws and is sure his opponents will point them out. He did mention earmarks, which he sought as a senator, but noted they are less than 1 percent of the budget and did ensure the development of key military weapons, such as the MRAP armored vehicles, the V-22 Osprey and predator drones.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul also are scheduled to address the tea party gathering this afternoon.

South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis earlier told members that conservatives must come together after the GOP presidential primary fight.

Loftis, who won election in 2010 with help from the tea party, chairs the South Carolina campaign for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is not a tea party favorite.

Loftis did not mention his role in Romney’s campaign – or even his name – but he said President Barack Obama was elected not because he gives good speeches, is African American or had a big war chest.

“Why he’s our president is because 7 million conservatives stayed at home,” Loftis said, urging tea party members to rally around the eventual Republican nominee to beat Obama this fall.

“Every one of us has got to go the polls. We’ve got to stop this tide of socialism. We’ve got to stop this crony capitalism,” Loftis said. “This will never be the country that we want, but without you we won’t have a chance.”

Loftis called the tea party “still the single most important group in the country,” but he said the movement remains misunderstood. “They think you’re just like Occupy Wall Street. They have no idea that you have absolutely nothing in common.”