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Rick Santorum on Meet the Press

6:16 PM, Jan 1, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate who's turned Iowa into a surprising three-way race, sat down on Meet the Press with David Gregory this morning. You can watch it here:

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Santorum said that as president he would strike Iran's nuclear facilities if the regime didn't open up its facilities for inspection. "I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and, and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through airstrikes and make it very public that we are doing that," said the former Pennsylvania senator. 

Santorum also responded to criticism of his earmarking in the Senate and his supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2008.  Brian Bolduc provides a good recap

Gregory then challenged Santorum on his voting record, mentioning his support for the infamous “bridge to nowhere,” among other pork-barrel projects. “Do you regret voting for some of those projects?” Gregory asked.

“Your role as a member of Congress, if you look at the Constitution, is to appropriate money,” Santorum explained. “Of course, if you appropriate money, you’re going to say where that money’s going to go. You’re not going to say, ‘Well, here’s the money, Mr. President, spend it anyway you want.’” Santorum also pointed out that “Jim DeMint, who led the charge on pork-barrel spending, earmarked things for years.”

Afterward, Gregory noted that Santorum had endorsed Romney for president in 2008, calling him the “clear conservative candidate” in the race. “What changed?” Gregory asked.

“What changed was who he’s running against,” Santorum replied. “I made the political judgment, right or wrong, that the best chance to stop John McCain [was to support Romney].” When Gregory observed that Santorum made a more full-throated endorsement at the time, Santorum responded, “Well, of course I’m not going to say ‘compared to’; I mean I’m trying to advocate for his candidacy.”

“So you didn’t mean that then?” Gregory asked.

“Well, I was saying it relative to John McCain,” Santorum concluded.

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