Rick Santorum 'testing waters,' grills Clinton emails in new video

Washington (CNN)Rick Santorum hit Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account in a new web advertisement Thursday -- making him the first Republican presidential contender to target the Democratic front-runner in an ad this election cycle.

It's an opening move by Santorum in the same week he set up a "testing the waters" account, allowing him to raise and spend money ahead of a potential run for the White House.
The former Pennsylvania senator's web spot says Clinton "placed America in even greater peril in an already-dangerous world" by using a personal email address tied to a private, home-based server during her tenure as secretary of state.
    It's the same line of attack that other Republicans have used in recent weeks, portraying Clinton as untrustworthy because of her email use and the Clinton Foundation's acceptance of foreign donations while she was America's top diplomat. And it comes as Clinton prepares to launch her own presidential campaign.
    "If Hillary Clinton has created this type of disaster as our secretary of state, how could we ever feel safe with her as our commander-in-chief?" the spot's narrator says.
    Santorum's Patriot Voices political action committee is spending five figures to put the ad on Facebook, Google, YouTube and other web outlets.
    News that Santorum was forming "testing the waters" account was first reported by CBS News on Thursday.
    The ad reflects a trend among Republican candidates: By attacking Clinton, they gain traction -- and media attention -- that otherwise would be hard to grab in such a crowded primary field.
    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made the contributions to the Clinton family's foundation a focus as he launched his presidential campaign this week. Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive, drew applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February by saying Clinton -- despite her time as First Lady, senator and secretary of state -- has no major accomplishments to her name.
    Santorum's ad highlights the threat of cyber-attacks from Russia, China, North Korea and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    "Now, the most troubling news of all: It's been exposed America's own secretary of state sent thousands of sensitive, classified emails through a personal, unsecured account, and it's placed America in even greater peril in an already-dangerous world," the narrator says.
    Clinton has said, though, that she didn't send classified information over her personal email account.
    The pro-Clinton group Correct the Record called the email issue Santorum's ad highlights a "manufactured controversy."
    "Though Republican operatives are desperate to make this manufactured controversy continue, Americans know Secretary Clinton has been beyond transparent and that her email system was secure," Correct the Record spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in an email.
    "Hillary Clinton spent four years as Secretary of State using diplomacy around the world to ensure the safety and security of Americans here at home," she said. "She likely has more experience in foreign policy and national security than all these potential GOP candidates combined."