John McCain Slams Santorum For Pork Barrel Spending

McCain goes to the mat for Mitt. Calls earmarks a “gateway to corruption.”

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

CHARLESTON, South Carolina—Sen. John McCain is playing his part as a surrogate for Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, laying into Sen. Rick Santorum for expressing pride in earmarks and pork barrel spending he brought back to Pennsylvania.

“We have let spending go out of control,” McCain said at a rally here. “One of the reasons, one of the reasons, why we have mortgaged our children’s and our children’s children’s futures is because of the pork barrel, earmark corruption in Washington. “Believe me, earmark spending is the gateway to corruption, and that was practiced when Republicans were in the majority. Senator Santorum and I have a strong disagreement, a strong disagreement that he believes that earmark and pork barrel projects were good for America.”

Appealing two the two hometown senators, McCain added, ““I think it’s wrong for America and so does Sen. DeMint and so does Sen. Lindsey Graham who have been staunch fighters against earmark and pork barrel spending. And I know you’re proud of that.”

McCain made similar statements in an interview with CNN this morning, and he is emerging as Santorum’s fiercest critic within the Romney campaign that has tried to ignore his rise.

Romney defeated Santorum by just 8 votes in the Iowa Caucuses, despite outspending him by over 7-1.

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