PICKET: Santorum to Romney on earmarks: 'You don't know what you're talking about'

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Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faced off in a heated exchange on earmarks at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona on Wednesday. While Mr. Romney attacked Santorum for being a big spender on Capitol Hill through the earmarking process, Mr. Santorum reminded Mr. Romney and the audience:

“He’s out there on television ads right now, unfortunately, attacking me for saying that I’m this great earmarker, when he not only asked for earmarks for the Salt Lake Olympics in the order of tens of millions of dollars, sought those earmarks and used them, and he did as the governor of Massachusetts, $300 million or $400 million.”

Romney then responded, “I’m sorry. The 6,000 earmarks that were put in place under the Speaker’s term, for instance, were oftentimes tagged on to other bill.”  He then added, “I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to be critical.  That was the process.  There were thousands — I mean, we’ve had thousands and thousands of earmarks.  They are typically tagged on to — bundled on to other bills.” 

Santorum shot back, “You’re misrepresenting the facts. You don’t know what you’re taking about.”

Santorum continued, “What happened in the earmark process — what happens in the earmark process was that members of Congress would ask, formally, publicly request these things, put them on paper, and have them allocated, and have them voted on a committee, have them voted on, on the floor of the Senate.”

Befuddled, Romney asked Santorum, “Attached to a bill? Attached to a bill?”

Santorum responded, “As part of the bill.”

“And the president can’t veto it?” Romney asked, apparently surprised. 

Santorum answered, “He can veto the bill.”

“The whole bill, but he can’t veto the earmark?” questioned Romney. 

Eventually, both candidates found agreement in the area of the line item veto, when Santorum answered Romney’s question saying, “Well, we tried to do that, by the way. I supported a line-item veto.” Governor Romney nodded saying, “That’s what I support. That’s what I support.”

The Pennsylvania Senator then said:

“Mitt, I agree with you. I support — I support the line-item veto. I voted for a line-item veto so we could do just that. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court struck it down. I would like to go back, as president, again, and give the president the authority to line-item veto.”

Senator Santorum then turned to Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican and reminded the audience about Mr. Paul’s issues when it came to earmarks. 

“But that’s not the issue. The issue is were they transparent? And the bottom line was, when I was in the United States Senate, there was transparency, and Congressman Paul, who is one of the most prolific earmarkers in the Congress today, is — would tell you…and I’m not — I’m not criticizing; I’m just saying that’s a fact.”

 

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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