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. Seattle Sue

    McCain is always blasting some one, if he can't find some one to blast, then he blast his wife as he has done in the past. Not a nice man.

    January 6, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. DaveinPA

    Fun to sit back and watch all these Republican fools destroy each other!

    January 6, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. Republican Class Warfare

    Eww..."John McCain Blasts Santorum"

    January 6, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. donaldyoung

    Dear Mitt, please get Christie back on the campaign trail or anyone but McCain. he's too old, too has-been, too controversial, and not inspiring.
    Get somone more marketable. You should know this is a shallow electorate, who make value judegements on silly qualities like age and appearance.

    January 6, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. Donald in CA

    McCain need to shut up. HIs own party gave up own him after he lost to the first black president. Even becoming a tea party guy hasnt helped him. You have stayed around to long John. You should retire to Palmdale CA.

    January 6, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Bob in Pa

    There is a reason John McCain lost to Obama.
    It was either massive voter fraud or not enough people liked his message.

    January 6, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. James PDX

    People keep saying that McCain failed to become president because he teamed up with Palin. The truth is, he teamed up with Palin because he knew he was going to lose to Obama and resorted to drastic measures that have left a taint on his reputation. McCain would make a better president than any of the trash the GOP has offered this time around. As far as the GOP goes, Huntsman may actually be the lesser of some pretty great evils. But Obama remains the least of all of the evils that these horrific and corrupt parties have to offer. But it's time to start electing non-party people at our state level so we can start making changes to our broken government, and so maybe 4 years from now we might get some candidates to choose from who aren't total embarassments to our country.

    January 6, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. Drew loves shoes..

    McCain.....GO AWAY!!!

    January 6, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Bob in Pa

    John McCains wishy washy failure to question Obamas past and current relationships and the people that surround him cost this country dearly. His endorsement of Romney means nothing. Probably nothing more than a play to be Secretary of Defense in return for his endorsement.

    @Jt_flyer
    By the way, Santorums faith does not make him a religous leader. The majority of past American leaders have all had a faith in God. That has served us well. Did you vote for Pres Clinton, or was Obama your first voting effort. ?

    January 6, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Bob in Pa

    @Rudy NYC
    The only extremists running around loose this election cycle are cureently in power. You prove that point week in / week out with your comments here.

    January 6, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Sarah

    Why would we listen to a man whose choice for VP was 10 times more popular thatn himself!

    January 6, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Sean

    Does anyone care about McCain's worthless opinions? Let's hear from someone actually relevant.

    January 6, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Albert

    This McCain who was rejected by the voters, over Bawreck Obama, who picked Sarah Palin for a running mate, and has pork-barreled the American people by taking a salary for doing nothing for years. This John McCain? McCain + Obama = Zero.

    January 6, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. jon

    For the defense bill put in office that McCain was for he has no room to talk. Him, Obama, and anyone for that bill should be tried for treason.

    January 6, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Laurie in Spokane

    I love it when the Republicans attack their own.
    It would appear that Rick Santorum poses a threat to Romney for the presidential nomination, as he chooses to attack him rather than tout his own ideas and plans for the country should he become POTUS (god forbid).
    Republicans are so entertaining...............and scary.
    `

    January 6, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. dreamer96

    Mitt Romney is stuck at 25% max of the Republican national vote, even with McCain's support, American's are getting sick of war, and the Tea Party...And Santorum will never win a national election with his Personhood pledge, and his very public statements about locking up doctors...This whole wagon load of GOP candidates is a waste of campaign money, should have given the money to fund several startup companies instead.

    January 6, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. critter

    not a gop supporter but i want to say mccain is a moron for even trying to take aim at another gop candidate. all we got to do is go back to 2008 and see what happen. romey is only getting macain support for the fact that he back him up in the 2008 election. its just a given mccain does not care for romey or anyone else but himself. romey and mccain are perfect fit as they flipflop littery spots and views. mmcain would be better without open his mouth.

    January 6, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. anagram_kid

    It is clear that Sen. McCain is only interested in supporting the candidate he thinks is most likely to defeat Obama, as do a lot of people in the Republican Party. It does not matter who would make the best president or even a good president. All that matters in their minds is who will trounce the intelligent, logical, tall, slim overachiever that makes them feel so inferior.
    Obama 2012 – Because he is still by far the best choice

    January 6, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Michael in Houston

    Santorum is a joke and has zero chance. There was a reason the voters in PA voted him out of office. HOWEVER, John McCain has no business criticizing ANYONE after his selection of someone like Palin. We need to call that decision for what it was....totally irresponsible, dangerous and reckless. He put someone like Palin one step away from the Presidency and there is NOTHING funny or cute about that. For a man who claims to love this Nation, he sure spit in her mouth by bringing Sarah Palin upon it. He is clearly not in mental health and should sit down and end his career in the Senate. He has no business being a US Senator. There is something seriously wrong with him.

    January 6, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. JOHN

    John and Mitt are good for each other, because they are both flip flopers . They both did not want to turn over their tax returns. They both can run a state.

    January 6, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. LegendRx

    Why don't CNN mention John McCain saying that "President Obama is the only man that can turn this country around"?

    January 6, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. Tr1Xen

    McCain is a good man to have on your side. I have a lot of respect for him and the things he's done for our country. Personally, I think he would have made a much better president than Obama, and could have even been on par with some of the greatest US presidents of all time, had he been given the chance. I don't think Romney is anywhere near the caliber of candidate that McCain was, though, albeit still probably a better choice than 4 more years of Obammunism.

    January 6, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Tr1Xen

    It's strange but I notice that all of my comments in these political forums now require approval beforehand. Is CNN trying to filter comments that might favor Republican candidates over Obama?

    January 6, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. GI Joe

    Earmarks are the LEAST of his short-comings. He wants to dictate religion - HIS religion.

    January 6, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. Jilli

    I almost couldn't believe it was possible, but the republicans have managed, in Rick Santorum, to find and promote a candidate that is even MORE offensive than Newt Gingrich.

    The cynicism and disdain the republican party has for the office of the President and the American electorate couldn't be more blatant.

    January 6, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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