Huffpost Politics

Mitt Romney Hits Rick Santorum Over 'Bridge To Nowhere'

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BRIDGE TO NOWHERE MITT ROMNEY RICK SANTORUM
AP

MESA, Ariz. — Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum clashed on spending requests during a sharp confrontation that fellow Republican Newt Gingrich called "silly" at the Republican presidential contenders' debate.

Romney on Wednesday criticized Santorum's tenure in the House and Senate for spending requests he sought.

Santorum said Romney is trying to have it both ways because Romney sought financial help to fund the Olympic Games he ran, and later sought federal tax dollars as Massachusetts governor.

Santorum defended earmarks as a useful way to override an administration's goals and chiding Romney as not knowing what he is talking about. He also called Ron Paul a "prolific" earmarker.

Romney hit Santorum over the "Bridge to Nowhere," a bridge linking tiny Gravina Island to Ketchikan, Alaska made infamous in the 2008 election. "I think there are a lot of projects that have been voted for. You voted to the 'Bridge to Nowhere.' I think these earmarks, we've had it with them." He defended seeking federal money for the Olympic Games. "And I'll tell you this -- he mentioned coming to the Olympics, coming to the United States Congress, asking for support. No question about it. That's the nature of what it is when you lead an organization or a state. You come to Congress and you say, these are the things we need...In the history of the Olympic movement, the federal government has always provided the transportation and security."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) previously hit Santorum over the "Bridge to Nowhere." Santorum defended his vote at a campaign stop in Iowa last December:

People say that I voted for “The Bridge to Nowhere.” I did. I went with the federalist argument, which is, “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 have to travel by air, and you had to have a ferry. There were times when they couldn’t get across.

The project was allocated $225 million in a $286.5 billion 2005 highway bill, which Santorum voted for in a 91-4 majority. He also voted against a later amendment stripping funding for the project, which failed 82-15.

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