Rick Santorum with George W. Bush and Arlen Specter
During last night’s Republican debate, rival candidate Mitt Romney attacked former Sen. Rick Santorum for endorsing pro-choice Republican (later turned Democrat) Sen. Arlen Specter over the more conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey. Santorum defended the endorsement claiming that he effectively traded the endorsement for a promise on judicial confirmations:
We had a conversation. He asked me to support him. I said “Will you support the President’s nominees?” We had a 51-49 majority in the senate. He said “I’ll support the President’s nominees, as chairman.”
That would have been the wrong thing to do. As chairman of that committee, I supported Roberts and Alito because I thought they were qualified for the jobs, but I made no deal. … There was no conversation where I made any commitment to him with respect to supporting any judges who hadn’t been nominated and whom I didn’t know about. I just didn’t do that and wouldn’t do that.
Given Specter’s long history of support for Republican Supreme Court nominees not named Bork and the two senators’ long record of mutual electoral support, Santorum’s accusations seem dubious at best.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) was challenged on multiple pieces of his record at last night’s CNN Republican presidential debate in Arizona, but his answer to why he voted for No Child Left Behind, the comprehensive education reform bill signed by President George W. Bush, drew the most criticism. “I have to admit, I voted for that, it was against the principles I believed in, but you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake,” Santorum said.
On the campaign trail today, Romney immediately seized on Santorum’s “take one for the team” apology:
ROMNEY: He talked of this of being ‘taking for one the team.’ I wonder which team he was taking it for. My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington, and I’ll fight for the people of America, not special interests. … He talked about voting for No Child Left Behind, even though that was against his principles.
While slamming Santorum as a “Washington insider,” Romney conveniently neglected to mention his own support for the law, which he highlighted as an example of where he disagrees with many conservatives in a 2008 interview on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes:
ROMNEY: I’d say that not all conserves line up with me on a few of the positions I have. For instance, I support having a Department of Education. I support No Child Left Behind. I think it’s improving our schools. I agree that we need to give more flexibility to states in applying it, but I support it.
As opposed to other issues, Romney’s position on education has remained fairly consistent. He’s been a vocal proponent of school testing while on the campaign trail and passed up an opportunity to criticize Santorum last night, saying Bush “was right to fight” against teachers unions to pass No Child Left Behind, even if some changes now need to be made to it.
But with conservatives criticizing Santorum’s answer today, Romney has apparently decided to pile on, ignoring that he’s criticizing Santorum’s support for a law he also supports.
MESA, Arizona — Approximately 40 undocumented students and supporters rallied outside the Arizona Republican presidential debate on Wednesday to protest the candidates’ opposition to the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would allow certain youth to apply for residency and citizenship after graduating from high school and completing two years of college or the military. It passed the House of Representatives in 2010 and received a majority of votes in the Senate, but failed due to a Republican filibuster.
All four remaining GOP presidential contenders oppose the DREAM Act for undocumented students. (Newt Gingrich supports it only for those who enter the military.) Most notably, Mitt Romney pledged to veto the DREAM Act if elected president.
ThinkProgress spoke with a few of the protestors in-between chants of “veto Romney, not the DREAM Act!” and “up, up with education, down, down with deportation”. Erika Andiola singled out Newt Gingrich for criticism, saying that as “an undocumented person, I don’t want to serve the country in the military, I want to serve this country as a lawyer.” Dulce Matuz told ThinkProgress about the difficulty she endured enrolling at Arizona State University as an undocumented student. Though she’d lived in Arizona for years, her immigration status precluded her from paying the normal in-state tuition rate of $2,500 per semester; instead, her and her family were charged $8,500 per semester.
Some GOP lawmakers in Michigan have been spending their time recently explaining why the man that they’ve backed for President — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — is all wrong about the federal rescueof the auto industry. “There was no one that could have picked up those pieces other than the federal government,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who has endorsed Romney.
Adding one more issue to the list, as the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston reported, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) — who has also endorsed Romney — explained at a town hall this week why Romney is wrong on housing policy:
Mitt Romney and I don’t agree on every issue and certainly housing is one of them. When you look at what is going on here in Southern Nevada, you can’t say you got to let the housing market hit bottom. We have been bouncing along the bottom for years. And the fact is we have to do everything possible to, one, keep people in their homes and, two, get people who are out of their homes back into their homes.
As a whole, the Republican presidential field is clueless on housing. But one has to wonder how Romney is picking up so many endorsements from people who don’t agree with him on the most pressing issues in their respective states.
Rich Santorum speaks to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Business & Industry Political Education Committee (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
TUCSON, Arizona — In a speech yesterday at a Tea Party rally, Rick Santorum attempted to strike a populist tone, telling an audience that Democrats, not Republicans are the party of large corporations.
As members of the audience applauded and one woman screamed out that the Democrats are “hypocrites,” the former senator said:
You hear this mantra, oh that Republicans are the party of Big Business. No, we’re not. No, we’re not. Look at where all the Big Business and Big Wall Street money goes. Not to us. To them. Why? Because they like big. Big government’s great for them. Because it crushes the little guy who can’t hire another guy in the compliance department to deal with the new regulation, can’t hire another person in the tax department to deal with the complexity of the new tax law. It’s the little guy that gets crushed.
Watch the video:
The facts, however, do not remotely back up Santorum’s claims. Even after the Citizens United ruling, businesses cannot donate directly to federal candidates, but corporate political action committees and executives give millions to political candidates — predominantly Republicans. The political action committee for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which calls itself “the world’s largest business organization,” has given 78 percent of its donations this cycle to Republicans — down from 88 percent in 2010. And another arm of the organization is currently orchestrating a $10 million “issue ad” campaign aiding almost exclusively Republican incumbents and candidates.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, contributors from the financial sector have given over $182 million so far this cycle: 52.8 percent to Republicans, 32.5 percent to Democrats. Of those, the ones identified as part of the securities and investment sector — the very “Big Wall Street” donors Santorum referenced — have favored Republicans by about a two-to-one ratio. Other sectors, including health (54.8 percent GOP), energy (70.1 percent GOP), and defense (61.1 percent GOP) similarly contradicted Santorum’s premise.
The truth is that businesses interests tend to give some money to each party and their donations tend to coincide partially with who controls the most seats in Congress (currently, the Republicans). But with Wall Street and the business community likely to spend record sums to stop President Barack Obama’s consumer protections, the Republicans may be more the party of Big Business than usual.
Of course, Rick Santorum should know all this; as the Senate Republican Conference Chair in 2001, he oversaw the party’s outreach to the business community and its K Street lobbyists. And at the time, Frederic A. Nichols, political director for the National Association of Manufacturers, praised the his efforts, saying “It’s clear that there needed to be more outreach to the business community from the Senate side. Santorum sees that it should be a major priority of the Conference.”
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 23, 2012 at 10:35 am
As Rick Santorum has risen in the polls in the GOP presidential race, his campaign has been unsuccessful in its attempt to “turn the political conversation away from the social and cultural issues that have dominated his quest for the Republican presidential nomination so far and focus instead on the economy.” The former Pennsylvania senator continues to bring religion into the campaign, saying that President Obama’s theology is not “based on the Bible” and voicing his opposition to prenatal testing.
Last week, Santorum said to voters in Idaho, “Are economics important? You bet? Are jobs important? You bet.” In last night’s GOP presidential debate, Santorum had a chance to show voters that he really did care about the economy. Instead, he failed to even say the word jobs once:
In total, the four GOP contenders mentioned the word “jobs” only 10 times over the span of two hours — and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) uttered the word a grand total of zero times. [...] Santorum had entered Wednesday night’s debate riding on a wave of support in the polls and among conservative voters in key primary states. His debate performance — during which he struggled to answer questions about his record in Congress — could serve to blunt that momentum heading into next week’s contests in Michigan and Arizona.
Santorum also never mentioned the unemployed, though he did repeat “spending” and “conservative” over and over. According to Gallup, 31 percent of Americans say the economy is the biggest issue facing the U.S. Thirty-one percent say it’s unemployment and jobs.