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. Indy

    John McCain: Dead wrong on 2008 VP pick and Dead wrong on 2012 Presidential pick. Maybe McCain will get the news that the economy is AZ is not doing well and drop his camapigning for Romney and rush home to fix the economy.When is the last time McCain worked for the people in AZ and actually earned his paycheck ?

    January 6, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Al-NY,NY

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

    That's because he pork-barrelled his way thru the Utah olympics and can't say with any truth that he is against pork-barrel spending

    January 6, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. clarke

    It is time for John to retire. Job is way to much for him.

    January 6, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Dutch

    So are we referring to the same McCain who referred to his new boss (Romney) as Obama? You know what scares people about Santorum is that he has moral guidelines and he is not willing to back down from them. Call it what you want but to me this is character and integrity, not the usual I will say what ever you want to as long as you vote for me that we see from both republicans and democrats.

    January 6, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. westward

    Yeah, attacks coming from McCain who has mistakenly attacked just about all of our allies in recent years because he didn't know who any of them are.....yeah, that really means a whole lot....

    January 6, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. zip

    Want to know how low America has sunk?? 30 years ago, Rick Santorum would have been laughed off the stage at a debate for candidates running for dogcatcher. Now he's surging in the race for the GOP nomination. This country has turned into a giant trailer park. What a disgrace!

    January 6, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. BeverlyNC

    McCain doesn't like ANY of the Republican "candidates". 4 years ago he hated Romney and now he is his best friend? McCain is just a bitter old man whose mind is going. His erratic behavior in the Senate shows it is past time for him to retire to one of his 7 homes. Him calling Romney, "Obama", was no slip. McCain still hates Romney but he hates Obama more for beating him and cannot get past it.

    January 6, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Jimmy Gabaldon

    I am a military veteran and even I am sick of hearing ANYTHING John McCain has to say He lost the presidential race twice. Time to shut up and retire, or take on the acting role of the Grinch. He has nothing useful to say to anyone or about anyone.

    January 6, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. westward

    Not buying any of this – McCain doesn't give a rip about Romney, just as tea party Nikki Haley skipped over about 4 tea party presidential candidates to endorse liberal Romney. These guys need to be investigated for bribery – plain & simple.

    January 6, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. FreeLove

    In 1991, Flipper went hat in hand to the US government and had the taxpayer BAIL OUT his company Bain Capital which was mired in debt, bad investments and on the verge of bankruptcy and he made a fortune as a result. Mittens is the 1% man, they play by one set of rules and the rest of us get the shaft and are told to shut up and "lift yourseves up by your bootstraps". For Flipper, his bootstrap was a fed bail out. And plastic man is running on his bidness saavy? Laughable.

    January 6, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Butter My ...Biscuit wrote:

    Do Republicans realize that all Republican Presidents since Nixon have ALWAYS spent MORE money than they take in and Democrats ALWAYS spent LESS money....?
    --------------
    Yes, of course they realize. Well, at least the smarter ones like Rove and Norquist realize it. That is why they push the lie that it is Democrats who are big spenders. That is why the push the lie that Democrats always want to raise taxes, when in fact Democrats only want to raise taxes to offset overly aggressive tax cuts enacted by Republicans.

    The real question is do the Republican voters know the truth. Truths like the fact their hero, Pres. Reagan, tripled the national debt during his time in office. Reagan had muliplited the annual budget deficit by a factor of ten by his second year. Reagan cut taxes on the wealthy so aggressively that it precipitated a recession, and then he did it again. Reagain purposely tried to destroy Social Security by funding tax cuts for the wealthy from the fund, which is why he and Tip O'Neil had to negotiate a compromise to "fix" it. What is most amazing is that Republicans blame the Democratic Congress for Ronald Reagan's excessive spending....and people believe them!

    January 6, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Jim in San Mateo

    What a fossil. The only thing older than McCain are his ideas.

    January 6, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. susan oxford ohio

    is there anyone out there who is as sick as i am hearing about these caucaues (oops sp) . they mean nothing and are a dumb waste of money and our time and energy. isn't there any other news?

    January 6, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Zeroed

    McCain should know how to operate a variety of military appliances. If he's going to take aim at Santorum, he should say it with ... gusto!

    January 6, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Lolo

    I tell you these republicans are really irresponsible people. It is truly sad and shameful of how they are eating their own, telling lies, being hypocritical of everything just to get elected to ruin the country more. None of them are fit for the office of president. Every since President Obama has been elected into office they have come after minorities with a vengence and their followers think that this is the Christian thing to do. I realy would like to see what bible they are reading. To top it off they have a book on how to defeat the president with mean, cruel and racist remarks. They are trying to stop voting rights, human rights and any other rights that we have. The only way we can defeat these clowns is to vote al of them out of office. Where are they jobs they promised in 2010. At least the pesident is acting like an adult and trying to solve the problems that these idiots brought on Amreica. I have not and will not forget all of their nasty remarks toward the President and the middle class citizens. Not one of them will get my vote. I repeat not one republican will get my vots. They are trying to start a race war undercover to split the country, but those of us who can think and research their lying claims for ourselves will not be fooled by the republican/tea party BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do not vote Republican to let them know that they work for all of America not just a select few.

    January 6, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Gurgi

    @Tr1Xen
    Yes they are, I have the same thing happening to me, and I've noticed that if my comment is either too much for republican or to critical of liberals, it doesn't make it past their "moderation" stage.

    January 6, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. deepthunk

    Yeah, remember the earmarks, forget about the lobbyists buying legislation and policy for the benefit of their donors, like the sweetheart free trade agreements that have cost thousands of American jobs in manufacturing.
    On a side note, I love the picture of Santorum in the “fox host apologizes to Santorum” link, who’s a sad boy, who’s a big pouty candidate, aww look at that lip that precious.

    January 6, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Tillie in Texas

    "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.

    So, why would be want to elect more Republicans to Congress? Yet alone put one in the White House. Do these people even listen to themselves?

    January 6, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Ticker: McCain Blasts Santorum"

    Eeeew. Sigh...at least make it a challenge CNN.

    January 6, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. mikey

    McCain blasts Santorum.

    January 6, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Gurgi

    Santorum/Rice or Huntsman/Rice, either one would drive liberals bat-crap crazy!!! It would be fun to watch their heads explode!!!

    January 6, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Sam

    to 'Butter My Butt And Call Me a Biscuit' – Good comment! I enjoyed it

    January 6, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. SaintM

    @Rudy NYC:

    Could not have explained the Reagan fiscal debaucle better–thanks for posting that. It seems that today's republicans either don't know, or forget the kind of president Reagan really was. They are so busy bowing to him and his legacy that I wouldn't be surprised if some nut job republican suggests they exhume Ronnie and run him for president again.

    @Butter my butt and call me a bisquit–laughed so hard at your "handle" that I almost choked on my cocoa. Ha ha ha

    January 6, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Jake

    there are so many bigger issues beyond earmarks with Santorum!

    January 6, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Larry L

    It's worth mentioning (again) the Republicans were in charge when the economy tanked. They spent like drunken sailors on shore leave. Most economists agree that President Obama's stimulus efforts were absolutely required to prevent another, even worse, great depression. Putting Republicans back in charge is good how?

    January 6, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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