Romney going back after Santorum on earmarks

posted at 9:50 am on February 9, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Don’t think that Mitt Romney didn’t notice the Rick Santorum hat trick on Tuesday, despite his protestations that those races didn’t amount to much anyway. His team seems to have executed a ballet like pivot in only 24 hours, abandoning his attacks on Newt Gingrich and training his sights on the former Pennsylvania Senator. For those of use lashed to the presidential press train, this quickly became apparent in our e-mail in boxes. I awoke this morning to find a love note from Mitt, once again proclaiming his bona fides as a “Washington outsider” and leading with the following graphic.

Rick Santorum Went To Washington

The text which followed was a link rich list of media bites, hammering Santorum relentlessly on his alleged history as a big government spender, going so far as to borrow a quote from Will Rogers, saying that Rick “never met an earmark he didn’t like.”

Santorum Voted To Add Trillions To The National Debt As Spending Soared During His Time In Washington:

“Santorum Acknowledged Voting To Raise The Federal Debt Ceiling At Least Five Times While In Congress.” (Charles Babington, “Gingrich Defends His Attacks,” The Associated Press, 1/15/12)

Federal Spending Increased By Roughly 80% During Santorum’s Tenure In The Senate. In 1995, Santorum’s first year in the Senate, federal spending was approximately $1.516 trillion. By 2007, when Santorum left the Senate, spending had increased to approximately $2.729 trillion. (“Fiscal Year 2012 Historical Tables Of The U.S. Government,” Office of Management and Budget, 2/14/11)

Santorum Brought Over $1 Billion In Pork-Barrel Spending Back To Pennsylvania. “In all, Taxpayers for Common Sense estimated, Mr. Santorum helped secure more than $1 billion in earmarks during his Senate career, which stretched from 1995 through 2006.” (Michael Luo and Mike McIntire, “Donors Gave As Santorum Won Earmarks,” The New York Times, 1/15/12)

Club For Growth: “Santorum Was A Prolific Supporter Of Earmarks, Having Requested Billions Of Dollars For Pork Projects In Pennsylvania While He Was In Congress.” (“2012 Presidential White Paper #4: Former Senator Rick Santorum,” Club For Growth, 6/6/11)

That’s just a taste of the laundry list contained in the note, with plenty more following. But the message from the Romney camp seems to be clear in two regards. First, they are absolutely taking Santorum seriously now, and the contest in Missouri ran up a big red flag as to what could happen if Newt changed his mind and bowed out, leaving Mitt in what would effectively be a two man race against the long dreaded, but never fully defined, single “Not Mitt” candidate. It wasn’t pretty.

Second, Romney knows that attacking Santorum from the left for being “too conservative” on any social issues would be an absolute disaster and very likely sink his chances. Rick also lacks the depth of “baggage” that Newt has, so it’s hard to claim he’s an easy target for Team Obama on that front. So his best – and possibly only – avenue of attack is to try to paint Santorum as a big spending, big government, earmark loving Republican who can’t be trusted to keep a tight hold on the national purse. Expect to see a lot of Romney cash dumped into precisely that message from now until Super Tuesday, as well as a highlight of the Feb. 22nd debate.

EDIT: (Jazz) Yes,that should have been Will Rogers. I guess I was just hungry when writing it…


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