Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is defending his voting record on earmarks while in the Pennsylvania Senate and justifying his support of current rival Mitt Romney when Romney ran for president in 2008.
Santorum addressed the issues in a pretaped show for “Meet the Press” today, separate from the special Meet the Press-Facebook debate where he also appeared.
Regarding the earmarks, Santorum said his goal was to ensure that his constituents “got resources back into the state.” Regarding Romney, he said his support was intended to oppose Sen. John McCain.
Santorum, who finished second to Romney in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday by a mere eight votes, insists that Romney is a liberal.
“Of course, everybody . . . has conservative values, vis-à-vis President Obama, and generally reflects the Republican Party,” he said. “The question is, are those values the ones that you can trust when they become president of the United States?”
He acknowledged the lack of support from his former congressional colleges (Santorum served in the House before he became a senator but said he hasn’t asked for it.
“I really haven’t gone out and asked any United States senator, I haven’t asked a single one to endorse me,” he said. “But I felt like I had to earn it first.”
Such “beltway endorsements” would counter his campaign message anyway.
“I don’t really need or want Washington endorsements,” he said. “That’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to change Washington.”
A Politico story notes that a Des Moines Register poll that puts Santorum in third place, with 15 percent, points to mounting momentum in his race for the Oval Office.
“Who goes from losing their last Senate race to winning the presidential nomination?” he said. “My answer to that was, well, Abraham Lincoln.”
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