Presidential candidate Rick Santorum hailed the influence of strong, independent women on Tuesday night, a turnaround from his past statements that critics have called sexist or anti-women.

In a concession speech given just as rival Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primaries of Arizona and Michigan, Santorum took the chance to tell voters “a little more about who Rick Santorum is” and sang the praises of his 93-year-old grandmother, his wife Karen, a former lawyer who gave up work to raise their family, and their daughter Elizabeth who campaigns for her dad on her own.

“I grew up with a very strong mom, someone who was a professional person who taught me a lot of things about… balancing work and family, and doing it well, and doing it with a big heart and commitment,” he said.

In his excitement, Santorum also mistakenly referred to the “men and women” who signed the Declaration of Independence.

“I’ve been very, very blessed, very blessed with great role models for me, as someone who goes out and tries to do the job I’m doing right now, to balance the rigors of running a campaign and trying to maintain a good and strong family,” he said.