Santorum defends his use of earmarks

Former Pa. Sen. Rick Santorum. CBS

Santorum riding Iowa wave through N.H.
DUBLIN, N.H. -- GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum hit back Friday against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. on the issue of earmarks.

McCain - the Senate's leading crusader against special-interest spending by colleagues -- had harsh words for the former Pennsylvania Senator when he was out on the trail in South Carolina stumping for Mitt Romney, saying: "Sen. Santorum and I have a strong disagreement, a strong disagreement that he believes that earmark and pork-barrel projects were good for America."

Santorum defended his use of earmarks as a member of Congress during a town hall in Dublin.

"The idea that earmarks--that because someone earmarks, that they're an irresponsible spender is just absurd. The big problem in the federal government with spending is not earmarks, it's entitlements," Santorum said. "The people of Pennsylvania elected me to represent the interests of Pennsylvania."

Santorum further hit McCain on his lack of leadership on entitlement reform.

"Candidly, this is John McCain trying to put his imprimatur on the Republican conservative movement," Santorum said. "John McCain very rarely supported entitlement reform. He came from Arizona - [an] older state -- and ran to the hills when it came to anything having to do with senior benefits."

Full CBS News coverage: Rick Santorum
  • Naureen Khan On Twitter»

    Naureen Khan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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