Bridge To Nowhere
February 24, 2012 by staff
Bridge To Nowhere, Days before a pair of crucial primaries, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum clashed Wednesday night in a testy debate that magnified small differences and underscored the big stakes in their neck-and-neck presidential fight.
The former Massachusetts governor was aggressive from the start, challenging Santorum’s claims of fiscal prudence. Romney criticized Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling five times and repeatedly seeking earmarks — money that lawmakers steer to specific home-state projects.
The former Pennsylvania senator defended the practice by saying that Congress has an important oversight role in shaping the federal budget. “Sometimes the president, the administration, doesn’t get it right,” Santorum said.
Romney, calling for a ban on earmarks, pounced with a reference to his stewardship of the troubled 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. “While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the ‘bridge to nowhere,’ ” he said, referring to the proposed crossing to a small Alaska island that became a symbol of government profligacy.
“You’re entitled to your opinions,” Santorum snapped. “You’re not entitled to misrepresent the facts, and you’re misrepresenting the facts. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The exchange typified the evening. It was prickly, personal and seemed to reflect an eagerness to engage — even when the issues were esoteric and the other candidates, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, were left to chime in from the sidelines.
Romney, the front-runner throughout most of the contest, was seeking to halt Santorum’s momentum ahead of Tuesday’s votes in Arizona and Michigan and, one week later, Super Tuesday, when more than a third of the delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination will be at stake.
One of the more contentious and convoluted exchanges involved religious freedom and the sweeping health care law passed under President Barack Obama.
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