The Ticket

Facing air attack from Perry, Santorum stands by ‘Bridge to Nowhere’

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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Rick Santorum (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

MUSCATINE, Iowa--Rick Santorum doesn't care what Rick Perry says: he's proud of his earmarks.

During a campaign stop Thursday at the Button Factory restaurant along the Mississippi River, Santorum responded to a new radio ad released by Perry's campaign that knocks him for supporting earmarks during his time in the Senate, from 1995 to 2006, that cost billions of dollars in taxpayer money. The ad, which will air throughout the state, calls Santorum a "congressional porker" who "grabbed for a billion in earmarks-- until voters kicked him out of office in a landslide." It also notes that Santorum voted for a transportation bill that would have spent $25 million on a bridge to an Alaskan island that is home to just 50 residents.

Santorum's response: Yeah, so what?

"Absolutely I had earmarks while I was in the United States Senate. Look at the Constitution. Who has the responsibility to spend money?" Santorum said. "Please go take a look at my earmarks. Are there things in there I'm proud of? You bet there are."

"People say I voted for the 'Bridge to Nowhere.' I did!" Santorum said. "Who am I in Pennsylvania to tell Alaska what their highway priorities should be? You had a city that was separated from its airport. And of course in Alaska, you travel by air, and they had to have a ferry. Well there were times when they couldn't get across and so they built this bridge.

"I gave the benefit of the doubt to the people who have the expertise and knowledge about what's best for their state," he went on. "Look at the Constitution. The Constitution says, 'roads.' So this is clearly a federal function."

Perry's ad is the first of the campaign cycle to solely target Santorum, who recently surpassed him in state polls. A CNN survey released Wednesday placed  Santorum in third place in the state behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

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