Thus far in the campaign, Rick Santorum has been tickled to ham up being the one who is above the fray. Well, he wasn’t polling high, hasn’t truly been vetted, and up until his 34-vote win in Iowa, wasn’t getting a lot of attention. Interestingly, Santorum gets plenty bristly-haired during the debates (political pundits note that he comes across as mean), and closer inspection of his record could elicit some real squealing from him.
Yesterday, Governor Tim Pawlenty held an enlightening press conference call which highlighted Santorum’s propensity for pork-barrel spending. Here’s the entire call:
Highlights of the Rick Santorum’s Long History Of Pork-Barrel Spending call:
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: What I wanted to focus this morning on the notion that Rick Santorum is presenting to caucus attendees in Minnesota and to conservatives beyond that Rick Santorum is really as conservative as those caucus attendees and he’s not. If you look at his record overall there’s a number of things that should be concerning about that record to conservatives. And I’ll just focus this morning on the spending and fiscal aspects of that. Rick Santorum has been a champion of earmarks, when he was both in the House and subsequently in the Senate. He reflected on his time in the House at one point by saying that he is no longer a fiscal hawk. And the reason he cited for no longer being a fiscal hawk is because he wanted to spend the surpluses which is not the philosophy or perspective of somebody that conservatives would look to as a strong, unabashed fiscal hawk. In fact he just admitted and disclaimed that he was no longer a fiscal hawk. And his votes and his behavior in the Congress reflected that drift away from fiscal discipline.
He proudly and enthusiastically embraced earmarking. Some of the more well-known examples of earmarking he supported was the so-called ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ which was one of the biggest earmark debacles in the modern history of the Congress. He supported things like a polar bear exhibit in Pittsburgh that was federally funding under one of these earmarks. He provided a Philadelphia developer an earmark for a project in the Philadelphia area, and there was a developer that he had some other contacts and associations with. He voted numerous times to raise the debt ceiling and here we as a nation facing fiscal crisis, I mean literally on the edge of the fiscal abyss.
We need a next president who’s been strong and proven in fiscal and spending matters, and we had Rick Santorum voting numerous times to raise the debt ceiling. So, he clearly has been part of the big spending establishment in Congress and in the influence peddling industry that surrounds Congress. He has been part of that. He has been a champion of earmarks, and to hold himself out now as somebody who is an unquestionable conservative in these matters, just is not supported by the facts. So we wanted to call that out this morning as part of his record, part of debate back and forth, and the contrast between these candidates, and Rick Santorum is clearly not as conservative on these matters as Minnesota caucus attendees or Republican or conservative activists and the people who are part of the conservative movement more broadly. So that’s the message we wanted to convey with you this morning, but we also wanted to give you a chance to ask questions or make comments about that topic or others that may be of interests to you, or obviously on the eve of the Minnesota caucuses, as well as other contests around the country tomorrow and the Romney campaign is in full gear as you know and there’s a lot of activity going on, so we’ll be delighted to take your questions on any topic related to those things.
Governor Pawlenty also released this statement yesterday:
“Rick Santorum is a nice guy, but he is simply not ready to be President. Plus, he wants Minnesota conservatives to believe he’s as conservative as they are, but he’s not. As a U.S. Senator, he was a leading earmarker and pork-barrel spender. He described himself as ‘very proud’ of the billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects he championed, and promised to defend the wasteful spending. Even in the face of crushing federal debt, Rick Santorum voted for the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’ That type of leadership will not help us rein in government and slash the unprecedented federal debt.”
Voters need to know about Santorum’s piggy-pork record while serving on Capitol Hill. He loved toting home taxpayer bacon for his state.
By the way, I greatly appreciate Pawlenty’s press conference call and his continuing hard work for Governor Romney.
Disappointingly, Santorum has also been hog-jowled on the campaign trail giving false information about health care in Massachusetts. Click below the fold for a must-read summary from the Romney Press Office: