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.