Team Romney shifts laser to Santorum
February 6th, 2012
02:08 PM ET
3 years ago

Team Romney shifts laser to Santorum

(CNN) - In a sign of Rick Santorum's potential strength, the Mitt Romney campaign focused on his opponent's record Monday, the day before three Republican presidential primary contests.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, one of the states set to vote Tuesday, was dispatched by Team Romney to criticize the former Pennsylvania senator's legislative record and poke holes in his self described conservative platform.

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"Votes and his behavior in Congress reflected that drift away from fiscal discipline," Pawlenty said on a conference call with reporters. "He has been party of the big spending establishment in Congress and in the influence peddling."

Santorum has defended his use of earmarks as a mechanism to funnel resources to his state, but Pawlenty said support for such spending and votes to increase the debt ceiling prove he is not a perfect conservative "by a long shot."

The up tic in attention on Santorum from Team Romney is evidence the campaign sees him as an increasingly formidable challenger heading into Tuesday's contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

Pawlenty, who dropped his own bid for president in August before backing Romney, said the Minnesota caucuses constitute a more conservative voting bloc, with whom he predicted Santorum will do well. However, assertions that Santorum is the only real conservative candidate in the race "just isn't true," Pawlenty said.

His defense of Romney's record was met with a retort from Santorum, who said Romney previously supported earmarks and that the negative comments were "typical Romney."

"Here is a situation where someone is now doing well, rising in the polls and instead of Gov. Romney going out and talking about his plans and what he's going to do, he goes out and throws the kitchen sink, runs negative ads, sends out his surrogates to rip and tear," Santorum said in Rochester, Minnesota.

The back-and-forth followed a lengthy Santorum health care speech Monday that intertwined his own plans for health care reform with a scathing critique of the health care plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts that resembles the current national law.

"There is now a concern by me as a candidate for president and hopefully to the people here in Minnesota that we would put someone up who is uniquely unqualified and I would argue disqualified from making the most important argument in this election – that we don't need government control of that one sixth of the economy of our country and that we need to repeal Obamacare," Santorum said during the speech.

Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley continued to hit Romney over his state's health care law, saying it was Pawlenty who previously created the "Obamneycare" nickname when he was running for the White House.

"We're all looking for Gov. Romney to finally have firm conviction on something, but it's pretty telling that he picks Romneycare," Gidley said in a statement.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I love the mud slinging now. May the GOP spend their money!

    February 6, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Gov. Romney should be careful with surrogates criticizing opponents political records. Romney has avoided touting his own political record for good reason. It is not an iron clad conservative record. And, Sen. Santorum cleaned his clock during the last debate over Romney's record as Gov. of Mass.

    February 6, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. tykl

    What just happened? Santorum just said no mudslinging and then slung mud?

    February 6, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    When Mittens, the Kochs, Rove and the swift boaters get done destroying their party, they will return to their efforts of destroying America. Obama 2012

    February 6, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    return to their efforts of destroying America.
    ===============================
    Speaking of this, where is all the coverage of the OWS rioting in Oakland??? Conviently swept under the rug, huh? LSM in action... I guess they don't want the rest of the world knowing exactly what kind of thugs and leftists are involved in the "movement".

    February 6, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. bearced

    @ Truth, Its Oakland! What else would you expect.

    February 6, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Why doesn't foreign owned media, Fox, report that the republican party has lied about job creation, lied about the cost of republican wars, lied about the Affordable Care Act, lied about busing in paid baggers to disrupt town hall meetings, hiding the Kochs are bankrolling the attack on 160 million workers in the nation, that wealthy and Wal Streeters are paying republicans to eliminate consumer safeties, and the list goes on? What do you expect from an entertainment organization pretending to be a news source?

    February 6, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. v_mag

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth - Here's a fact that has been swept under the rug:

    All the Repugnant candidates are no different from George W. Bush. They all want to "take the country back" to the days of Bush where all this economic misery began. If this were not a fact, they would have contrasted their policies with his, instead of with Obama's. However, they realize that no sane person would vote for a Bush clone, so they try to identify with Reagan, who is to some, less heinous.

    February 6, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Voice of Reason

    The Romney camp (and their surrogates/PACs) have been at the center of a doo-doo-storm of mud-slinging, back-biting, and general all-around dirty campaigning. I wonder how much longer the American people will put up with it? Or if they'll realize that Romney uses all the negativity to distract from real scrutiny of his stated goals?

    His tax-plan has been evaluated by non-partisian experts, and the universal verdict is that it would only further stratify our economy, and diminsh the middle class. His devotion to long-since defunct keynsian economic theory needs to GO. Even George H W Bush saw it back in 1979, when he accused GOP's Saint Reagan of 'Voodoo economics". Seems that people are looking the other way now...

    Dont be fooled or distracted by the negative campaigning. Do your homework and see where this guy would take us (us = people making less than $1,000,000 / year).

    February 6, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Truth asked:

    Speaking of this, where is all the coverage of the OWS rioting in Oakland??? ...
    -------------------
    Fox News Channel, Truth. They arrested most of the people over a week ago, locked them all up, and it is pretty much over now.. Didn't you know? Fox is still showing protests over and over as it it were new news. It isn't a new riot every day. Those Tea Party counter protestors they keep shoiwng, that's old footage, too. Vintage 2009.

    February 6, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. ourjungle

    Santorum,incase you haven't figured it out....running for office like you are, is a vetting process. Your would make a great shovel ready VP. that would bring much to the big tent. Yes, you do want to be President, but the numbers are not there,and you would be a good guide for the incoming Administration.

    February 6, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Willie Floyd

    Why can't "money bags" do his own criticising rather than send someone else to do it???

    OBAM/BIDEN 2012

    February 6, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    "Speaking of this, where is all the coverage of the OWS rioting in Oakland??? "

    How do you know it was OWS and not provacateurs or anarchist groups simply trying to take advantage of the situation?

    February 6, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |