McCain takes aim at Santorum in South Carolina
January 5th, 2012
05:32 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain takes aim at Santorum in South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Mitt Romney's presidential campaign took its anti-earmark crusade against Rick Santorum to South Carolina on Thursday, with Romney-backer John McCain leading the charge.

The newly ascendant Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, has come under fire from his GOP foes for his unapologetic defense of the earmarking process, which he says is simply a power granted to Congress under the Constitution.

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McCain, a fierce and longtime opponent of "pork-barrel spending," joined Romney for a rally in Charleston and set about attacking Santorum's record of securing earmarks.

Romney was silent on the matter, and let McCain do the talking.

"Earmark spending is the gateway to corruption, and that was practiced when Republicans were in the majority," McCain said, flanked by Romney and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Romney's leading backer in the Palmetto State.

"Sen. Santorum and I have a strong disagreement, a strong disagreement that he believed that earmarks and pork barrel projects were good for America," he said.

McCain called earmarks "wrong for America" and said that South Carolina's two senators, Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, agree.

He praised Romney for reducing spending as governor of Massachusetts.

Romney and McCain have not always agreed on the matter of earmarks.

In 2002, McCain told CBS News that millions of dollars being allotted to the Salt Lake City Olympics "a rip-off of the taxpayers" and a "national disgrace."

McCain demanded a federal investigation into money that was being used to build freeways, a light rail system and procure public art.

Romney was the chairman of those Olympic Games and defended the use of federal money.

"What should the role of the federal government be with regards to the Olympics?" Romney told CBS. "Should it provide the security? Should it provide the highways and bridges necessary to get people to venues? In my view, the answer is, unequivocally, yes."

Also see:

DNC highlights old Romney-McCain tension

Gingrich hones message in New Hampshire

Santorum raises more than $1 million in one night

Huntsman to air first TV spot

Perry will 'reset the campaign' in South Carolina, adviser says


Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Rick Santorum • South Carolina
soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Phil in KC

    If you're going to have an attack dog, I doubt you could do much better than John McCain. That's smart of Mitt to let him do the dirty work.

    January 5, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Sundiegoman

    Somone should tell McCain that he is opinion does not matter to anyone.

    January 5, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Bill

    I thought McCain ran for president in 2008. Go earn your salary and do your job McCain.

    January 5, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Larry L

    I would be so ashamed to be a Republican. The entire campaign is about who is the most "conservative". This translated means "who is most against the poor, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection, gay people, Muslims, imigrants, minorities, science, and any sort of reasonable control of guns". Those are GOOD traits?

    January 5, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Duke One

    Santorum is NOT a fiscal conservative !

    January 5, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. Thomas

    What dose McCain think he will get in return ?

    January 5, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    John Mc Cain pick never good for America example John McCain VP pick total flap

    January 5, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Oh, God ... John McCain is trying to be relevant and in the news. Lord help us all!

    January 5, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Kingbear

    Mitt must be slipping if has to call on John McCain to help him. Perhaps John should spend more time on the problems in AZ.

    January 5, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. Butter My Butt And Call Me a Biscuit

    Do Republicans realize that all Republican Presidents since Nixon have ALWAYS spent MORE money than they take in and Democrats ALWAYS spent LESS money than they take in except for FDR and Obama who both inherited either a Great Republican Depression or a Great Republican Recession? Both the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007 were preceded by almost 10 years of exclusive Republican rule in the White House, House and Senate.

    January 5, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. Tony in TN

    Go getem McCain

    January 5, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. TheTraveler

    Why anyone would care what McCain has to say is beyond me ...

    January 5, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There are earmarks to make sure that federal money go back to your state and then there is really outrageous things like the bridge to nowhere. There are things that benefit few people and then are ones that help people or the economy in a significant way.

    January 5, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  14. RCA

    With all due respect Sen. McCain. If you can't pick a Vice President in 2008, how can we trust your choice for President in 2012?

    January 5, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  15. David

    Oh please wake me up and tell me it's a nightmare – John McCain on the campaign trail again? And I can hear Dr. Frankenstein: "He's alive! He's alive!"

    January 5, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. DonT

    Yep Phil, thats so true. As an Arizonan I can attest to JM's bark and bite.

    January 6, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  17. Dan

    McCain hasn't done much of anything in all the time he's been a senator here for Arizona. Maybe he should've went for some government funds. I respect his service but find him lacking as a representative of our state.

    January 6, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  18. Paul-A

    Um, I'm not sure who's being more hypocritical here: McCain, for attacking Santorum about earmarks while ignoring that he similarly attacked Romney about them in 2002; or Romney, for allowing his new-found "friend" to be so hypocritical and not call him out on it. Oh wait, they're both Republicans; thus, little things like truthfulness and hypocrisy don't really matter....

    January 6, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  19. Jon

    Question 1: Why is McCain still around?

    Question 2: Why does anyone listen to him?

    January 6, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  20. paulbark

    Romney is a coward who has surrogates, like McCain, and the PAC ads, do the dirty work he supports. Romney should at least have the honesty to say those things himself instead of leaving it to others to do and then claim it's not what he said.

    January 6, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  21. Michael Wong

    Nobody pays attention to John McCain any more. He lost what remained of his credibility when he picked Palin, lost the election, and then lost his mind over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

    January 6, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  22. Adrienne

    I agree with Santorum. One of the reasons people elect their congress person is for them to look after the state and bring home money projects that create local jobs. Arizona has no jobs. John McCain could help with that, if he were any kind of hunter that could bring home meat for the tribe. John McCain lets his tribe starve. Santorum understood his job.

    January 6, 2012 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  23. Don

    If the GOP nominates Romney over Santorum they have given up all rights to call themselves as a party of principles. Santorum is 100% of what they "say" they want in a leader. Romney is 100% opposite.

    January 6, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  24. Jt_flyer

    I don't agree with Mcain very often but I do here. Santorum is a huge mistake. I'll never vote for a religious leader. You people are dreaming. Wake up and plan for 2016. 2012 is lost.

    January 6, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  25. Mark

    Anyone who signed the Norquist "no tax increase" pledge needs to be voted out of office, not into a new role as President. That includes McCain, Santorum, Gingrich, or anyone that doesn't listen to the arguments before deciding what to do. The people have to send them a message that our legislators are not to be bought, even with covert tactics like "the pledge". The duress of penalty for violating the pledge hangs over the head of those who signed it. That is completely wrong. Our legislators must be allowed to change their mind without penalty if they hear an effective argument that makes them think they should.

    January 6, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
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