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Taking Aim at Rick Santorum

10:42 AM, Jan 5, 2012 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Northfield, N.H.
We now have a glimpse at how Mitt Romney's campaign plans to handle Rick Santorum’s challenge. In Iowa, when it first became apparent that Santorum was on the move, Romney tried to label him a career politician. “Like Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum has spent his career in government, in Washington—nothing wrong with that, but it is a very different background than I have.”

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Today, the Romney campaign sent Sen. John McCain out to field-test a different line. Here’s McCain on CNN this morning: “I respect Senator Santorum. He and I had very strong differences on earmarking and pork barrel spending. I believe that earmarking is a gateway drug to corruption. Senator Santorum supported it and engaged in it as much as he possibly could. I strongly disagreed with it. That was a fundamental difference we had in the Senate.”

Incidentally, Rick Perry explored this avenue in the waning days of Iowa, attempting to pin pork barrel projects like Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere on Santorum, on the grounds that while these earmarks were introduced by other members, Santorum voted for the budgets which contained them. The criticism didn’t find much traction there. But perhaps the Romney campaign has specific examples of earmarks Santorum requested himself. 

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