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. Jay

    You aren't relevant to the 2012 election John. The advice you should be giving Romney is how not to pick an imbecile for VP so that it doesn't end up costing you the election.

    Retire from politics and go enjoy your wife's money. People didn't elect you President. Be like Bob Dole and step away gracefully.

    January 6, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Russell G.

    Hey Peter, the majority of people couldn't care less about anything Mccain has to say about anything or anybody...BTW

    January 6, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Caleb R

    Senator McCain, you're not the candidate for Presidency. Set the mic down and get out of the picture. Take the rest of the GOP with ya.

    January 6, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. glyder

    mcain is nothing more than a pompus ass rino,i knew better than to vote for him or obama.hopefully he and his "like i'm a progressive."daughter will go to europe and never return.

    January 6, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Stephen R

    McCain was a loser in '08. He's still a loser. That 16% approval rating of congress is appropriate. He, like 98% of the rest of the sitting class of congressmen, needs to be voted out. Send 'em packing and get some new blood in there.

    January 6, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. johnmenacherjr

    The only thing thats really viable is Why would anyone ever vote for Santorum with all his K street – Tom Delay connections??? These connections made Santorum wealthy after the senate why woukld anyone in their right – oops good mind vote for him??

    January 6, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. WhereIsPalin

    Remember. McCain is the one who infected the US with the Palin virus.

    January 6, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Gurgi

    It would be funny if Romney lost to Huntsman and Huntsman chose Condi Rice as VP. It would make heads explode on both the right and the left!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. blue19

    What's scariest about Santorum is him wanting civil laws to align with God's laws. This is a Christian form of Sharia law, something he would be the most vocal about opposing. Somehow, Rick seems to think everyone needs to follow his evangelical view of religion, which is extreme.

    January 6, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "What dose McCain think he will get in return?"

    New slippers. Those nursing home floors are cold.

    January 6, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. mokk1

    I agree, shut up Ma cain, no one cares that you endorse your good ole boy romney. Two turds in a punch bowl.

    January 6, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Roger

    When all is said and done it is going to be President Obama versus Mittens. The Republican party has lost its way – it needs time to regroup, rethink and end this far right wing fanatical posturing. Right now at this point in our history, it is imperative that President Obama be re-elected. Perhaps in 4 years the Republicans will have gotten their act together and have a viable candidate to put forward – but not this time around!

    January 6, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Independent Voters

    I just seen a video that McCain call Romney president Obama.

    January 6, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. McCain Has Dimentia

    Its embarrassing for everyone to watch this tired old war veteran make a fool of himself everywhere he goes.

    Come on, Cindy. Yank him off the state.

    He once served our county with honor. Now he is only serving himself with dishonor.

    January 6, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Jack

    I agree with an earlier blogger who said they feel sorry for Republicans because it is a fight to see who is the most conservative. How sad. Why do politicians have to define themselves so narrowly? So rigid? Why can't they be liberal on some matters, conservative on others, and moderate on some? Why the fundametalism? I would love to hear a politician say, "I'm a pragmatist. I try to get things accomplished and move teh country forward and I am willing to compromise for the good of the country." You'll never hear that.

    January 6, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. George

    McCain should see his proctologist about the whole blasting santorum thing

    January 6, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Tony in Maine

    Never get in the way when Presidential candidates form a circular firing squad.

    You'd think that, in a party with more than a few hundred members like the GOP, they could find one candidate worthy of admiration. This crew reminds me a bit of the bunch who are blinking furiously when the bar lights go on at 2AM.

    January 6, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. mitchell smith

    It tickles me to no end to have read some of these comments. So many smart people out there who seem to actually see through the Republican morass of ideals, like catering to white farmers out in Iowa who all have health insurance and have inherited their plots of land and have the audacity to see themselves as self-reliant while taking their farm subsidies....I work in health care and everyday I see poor souls sick and without health insurance. I'll vote for Obama again because he has a goodness about him I don't see in the others.

    January 6, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. excitizen

    Just about laughed my butt off when they showed the video of McCain saying that President Obama would be the best choice for the country – then you see people coming at him from both sides to tell him what he just said!!! PRICELESS!!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. nolimits3333

    McCain is a senile old man and an embarrassment to the state of Arizona.

    January 6, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    McCain was the worst candidate since Mondale. Why should anyone listen to him? Or that skunk of a daughter of his...

    January 6, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. mayfiat

    Santorum has to start talking about issues and what he is going to do as President. He also needs to start pointing out the styles and decisions of the "other guys" so that people know what they are getting behind when they back a Romney. Santorum is there right candidate for America in so many ways! Its unfortunate that this business of "who has the most money to spend on advertising" is what wins the day. Hate it. Need to wake up and see that we're being played by people who have more money to get a "message" out, good or bad. Santorum is the most conservative (if thats what people really want and if people are honest with themselves, I think it is), he has the best overall national and political ethic (because thats whats required), and he is a stable man, which is what the US needs. The problem with Santorum is he doesnt fight dirty like these other guys, its a double edge sword, honor verses defending yourself. In the game of politics (and its a game – like it or not) its harder to win if you dont fight dirty.

    If you think Obama isnt playing with us and our money, think again people. I love (hate) the new message, "if congress wont act I will" is dictatorship at its best and absurd but EVERYONE is falling for it and applauding him, fools.

    But I digress, back to the race... Romney is not a president, he is a polished business man with no sense of country. While being a businessman isnt all bad, its not everything and honestly Romney is Obama all over again...dont be fooled...get in line with Santorum, sound judgement, strong national defense and stability is what we need.

    January 6, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. carlos

    mc cain...a below average aviator, a parrot of a pow....he does not know anything about anything, foreign policy,military strategy ZERO........retire you POS

    January 6, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The GOBP Rove wingnut/teabagger trainwreck implosion continues full speed ahead.

    January 6, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. JohnRJ08

    Why doesn't this crotchety old fool retire and just keep his trap shut. McCain is one of the most intemperate personalities in Congress and, in my opinion, made one of the worst decisions in US political history when he agreed to Sarah Palin as his running-mate.

    January 6, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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