Who's the biggest earmarker of them all?
February 9th, 2012
04:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Who's the biggest earmarker of them all?

Washington (CNN) - Rick Santorum all but referred to Mitt Romney as Mr. Burns, the villainous nuclear power plant owner in the Simpsons who once famously said, "release the hounds."

Asked by a reporter about Romney's assaults on his record of supporting earmarks in Congress, Santorum did everything but show the bite marks at a news conference in Oklahoma.

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"I think it is interesting that you are asking that question about Governor Romney and his attack dogs. I mean that just tells you what his campaign is all about," Santorum told reporters Thursday.

Santorum defended his record of backing congressional pet projects during his time in the Senate.

He went as far as to say he stands by his support for the V-22 Osprey, a plane-helicopter hybrid that was plagued with safety problems, including two crashes in 2000 that killed 23 marines.

"One of the earmarks I had was for the V-22 Osprey, which Dick Cheney and the first Bush administration wanted to shut down," Santorum said.

"But the Congress said no. The V-22 was an important project and we overruled the administration with an earmark," he added.

Santorum noted Romney had a record of supporting earmarks when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

"Look at his requests to Ted Kennedy and to John Kerry and to all the congressional offices. He was very forthright about seeking and supporting earmarks when they were coming to Massachusetts," Santorum said.

A congressional source confirms to CNN Romney's staff did coordinate with Democratic offices on Capitol Hill for a variety of roads projects when transportation bills would come up for reauthorization.

Romney also presided over the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games which received more than a billion dollars in federal funding for light rail and other transportation upgrades.

At the time, those projects caught the attention of Senator John McCain, a prominent earmark critic who is now a top surrogate for the Romney campaign.

McCain took to the Senator floor in 2000 to blast the skyrocketing cost of the winter games.

"And for the upcoming 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the estimated cost to American taxpayers is 1.3 billion dollars. That's outrageous Mr. President. And it's a disgrace," McCain said.

Asked for a response to Santorum's comments on Romney's earmark record, a spokeswoman for the former Massachusetts governor said there was no comparison.

"Sen. Santorum is like a shopaholic who wants to blame department stores for his spending obsession," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement to CNN.

Romney now supports a ban on earmarks. Santorum's staff says the former Pennsylvania senator backs a moratorium on such projects.

Also see:

Santorum targets Obama, Romney at raucous Texas rally

Bachmann: Santorum win a 'shot across the bow'

Gingrich looks to Super Tuesday lift

McCain blames turnout (not Romney) for Tuesday results

Romney: Rivals are 'Republicans who acted like Democrats'

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Guns don't kill, people do.
    Earmarks are not the problem, it is the people who abuse them.

    February 9, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Earmarks have been abused over time. Doing away with them isn't the answer either.

    February 9, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens is playing a scene out of "The Hobbit." In his attacks on fellow republicans, Mitttens has become "Lord of the Zings."

    February 9, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Actually, Rick has a point about Mittens. But, because Mittens has unlimited cash, he will beat Rick into the ground like he went after Newter.

    February 9, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Joi Gibson

    I'm glad Mr. Santorum is proud of his earmarks for a piece of machinery plagued with safety issues. However, Ricky is right about one thing – Willard will only win by denigrating his rivals, not by his so-called vision for America. Exactly what is that anyway?


    February 9, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republican talking points for the day: Off shore banks are people too. Tax evasion is the humane way to help pay for our wars. Corporate raiding creates untold profits for the needy billionaires. The less revenue the government collects, the smaller the national debt. Wars are good because they keep the poor and middle class employed.

    February 9, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Pat

    These are our Conservatives hahaha, they all used earmarks + pork spending. The only thing these fools can discuss are antigay, anti women choice, anti contraception. Do these conservatives have any ideas. They had one that was Universal healthcare which was a conservative idea bcoz it was the fiscally responsible thing to do. But GOP did not implement it and Obama did. So they are against it. Conservatives need to go back to brainstorming and understanding what they are all about.

    February 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Since the Kochs, Rove, and the sift boaters are financing Mitttens, all the republican candidates will be beaten like a rented mule.

    February 9, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Texas Dude

    Santroum forgets that he's dealing with a man (Mitt) who will say anything just to get elected. Mitt is indeed the FLOPPER IN CHIEF.

    February 9, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. CoJo

    earmarks are the problem, just like politicians should not be using inside knowledge for stock trading, but they do it anyway. Just like the bill being passed now about the inside stock trading, earmarks ought to be outlawed. Politicians in general cannot be trusted like that. They (in general) have already proven that

    February 9, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. aba

    a "santorum trifecta" sounds like a terrible disease

    February 9, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    If it comes to money the flip flopper will beat anyone and everyone. This will change after they finish playing their silly little game of who is the worst nominee the teapublikan party can come up with to even get in the ring with the President.
    Where's you dog flip flopper?

    February 9, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Dave

    By far the bigest earmark is 0 taxes on a cult that has 0 black Elders of its so called religion. The lds racist do not allow to this day a member of color to its Elite white, whiter & whitest Higharchy. This is incredible & awful. Mitt was a very high ranking Elite in Mass & has extreme clout, especially with the millions & millions of dollars coming from mormon superpacks. Why not ask this racist coward about this issue. Thank you & GOD BLESS AMERICA

    February 9, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    So much for the "great job" Romney did on the Olympics.........if he got over a billion dollars of tax payer funds to help him get the job done.

    February 9, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |