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Pawlenty Used to Tweak Santorum

3:20 PM, Feb 6, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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On a conference call Monday afternoon, a Mitt Romney campaign surrogate—Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor—criticized Rick Santorum for being part of the “big-spending establishment in Congress and in the influence-peddling industry that surrounds Congress,” and for previously supporting earmarked spending.

Rick Santorum

Pawlenty endorsed Romney soon after dropping out of the Republican presidential primary last year. Today’s call was organized by Romney’s presidential campaign.

Voters heading to Minnesota’s caucuses on Tuesday, Pawlenty said, ought to know this about Santorum’s record. “Rick Santorum is clearly not as conservative on these matters as conservative caucus attendees or Republican or conservative activists and people who are part of the conservative movement more broadly,” he said.

One reporter asked Pawlenty if Romney and himself are as conservative as Minnesota’s caucus attendees. “I consider myself a conservative, and Mitt Romney, by the way, has got a conservative record,” Pawlenty said. “His record, of course, isn’t perfect. None of the records of these candidates are perfect. But Mitt Romney’s record is a conservative record. Again, not perfect but conservative.”

Santorum has repeatedly defended the earmarks he sought as a member of Congress, and he claims, now that their abuse became evident, he supports banning them. “People change position from time to time for various reasons,” Pawlenty said about Santorum’s transformation. “And the fact that [Santorum] has now tried to move away from the fact that he was a champion of earmarks is noteworthy…. He’s held himself out as the perfect or near-perfect conservative when in fact that’s not his record.” 

But the campaign surrogate did not say how Romney’s own policy reversal on, say, abortion is any different than Santorum’s.  

In fact, Romney’s own record shows he sought federal spending when he was governor of Massachusetts. In 2003, Cindy Gillespie, Romney’s chief of legislative and intergovernmental affairs, sent a memo to cabinet officers outlining the governor’s plans to increase federal funding to Massachusetts. 

“A major priority of our Administration is ensure that Massachusetts receives the maximum amount of dollars available from the federal government,” the memo reads. “We can increase Massachusetts’s share of federal dollars by implementing a system of identifying and tracking grants so that we can aggressively advocate and pursue the discretionary funding opportunities and closely track the receipt of the formula and other funds.”

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