McCain takes aim at Santorum in South Carolina
January 5th, 2012
05:32 PM ET
2 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. Keith

    The same John "there's nothing wrong with our economy" McCain from 2008? I'll have nothing to do with Santorum or Romney, but who really cares what McCain has to say.

    January 6, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  2. diridi

    I blast entire GOP for current mess., not Obama. He is fixing this mess. It needs another term for him to fix. We need Manufacturing and Agriculture apart from "JOB-RETRAINING". Obama2012.

    January 6, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  3. 5612jean

    McCain's failed at becoming president because of his poor Sarah Palin choice. I guess he'll settle for a Romney/McCain ticket.

    January 6, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. Joan

    Maybe Romney will ask McCain's advice on picking a good VP candidate. Everyone knows how that worked out for him last time.

    January 6, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  5. Terry Gloege

    Looking at McCain's record of late I'm not so sure how smart it is to have him on your side. Remember who he picked for VP?

    January 6, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    The Republican presidential field is turning a corner now that voters have spoken in one state. The field is thinning itself. It appears that the fdecision on who will be the eventual nominee is going to come to an ideological battle within conservative ranks. The moderates vs. the extremists. The Establishment vs. Tea Party. Romney vs Not-Romney.

    January 6, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  7. timoteo

    In his campaign for president, Mitt Romney has championed free markets and vowed to shrink the role of government. But after Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he co-founded, bought and then shuttered an aging steel mill in Kansas City, taxpayers were left holding the bag for the company's underfunded pensions.

    January 6, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  8. Steve-Illinois

    Is anyone truly still interested in John McCains opinion on anything?

    January 6, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  9. MnWise

    Like anything he has to say matters.
    He say's himself, "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."
    The old republican says of themselves.

    January 6, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  10. ZB

    McCain has managed to turn himself into one of the most inprincipled and iddiotic politicians in America. I do find it interesting that with Romney in the lead all the other candidates are attacking each other instead of him.... what does that say?

    January 6, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  11. jim

    McCain should have stopped appearing in public after senility set in.

    January 6, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  12. Recovering Republican

    McCain as a back up. Now there is a winning strategy. What's next, a Taliban endorsement??? These idiots are making it so easy for Obama to win reelection.

    January 6, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. FedUp

    Let me guess. Romney has promised McCain VP. That's the only way McCain will ever get near the Presidency.

    January 6, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  14. Allie

    An editor really got a kick out of creating that headline: McCain Blasts Santorum

    January 6, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. KH

    I wonder what kind of life Santorum's influential grandfather would have had without the UMW?

    January 6, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Steve

    So, a twice failed presidential candidate wants to shoot down a current candidate. Who not only lost but thought he had the patent on whining about it when he lost to Bush. He should have stayed in the Military, apparently being anything more than a war hero is beyond his capability.

    January 6, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. Gurgi

    Fortunately the opinions of liberals about the republican candidates does not matter as they will not be voting for them anyway.

    January 6, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  18. tom clements

    Us conservatives are no fans of McCain. We held our nose and voted for him last time. This is the best thing that could happen to Santorum's campaign.

    January 6, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. madmaninthemiddle

    CNN what happened to my cooment? There was nothing inapropriate I'm it.

    January 6, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Ricardo

    Forget McCain, the Maverick.I remember he said in 2008 campaign Sarah Palin was the most qualify governor ever. Sarah Palin republican nomminee 2012

    January 6, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. Publius Novus

    Of course, Santorum is correct. Earmarks are legally proper and have always been a budgetary red herring. They do not increase federal spending and at the same time, permit the respresentatives of the people–rather than "unelected bureaucrats"–to decide where to spend the money.

    January 6, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. Tom

    Rick Santorum: Spending every penny of your tax dollars only on states he likes.

    January 6, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  23. vote the Tea Party out in 2012

    I happen to like John McCain but I think he is still suffering from the bitterness of losing to Obama in 2008. He whines too much about everything the president tries to do and now he's gonna be the "pit bull" for Mitt? Well it might be worth noting that many former candidates that have LOST previous election are backing Mitt. GHW Bush, Bob Dole, Dan Qualye et al so that might be a BAD omen.

    January 6, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Joi Gibson

    Who cares what John McCain has to say. The man is still bitter, bitter, BITTER, that he lost the election to Barack Obama. And his judgment must be called into question after picking Sarah Palin as his VP pick and still insisting she was/is qualified to be VP, let alone president. Romney and McCain on stage together-they look as if they can barely tolerate each other, but hey, anything to try to unseat President Obama. Ain't gonna happen.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. lance corporal

    hey CNN no one respects Mr Mccain anymore, he no longer has standing, he is not someone who's opinion matters any more, Mr Mccain has clearly shown the us that he will say or do anything for votes and that nothing else matters to him, he is nothing but a shill..... the last few days CNN has been giving him air time....why?

    January 6, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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