MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who is becoming less and less coy about his 2012 presidential aspirations, admitted during a luncheon Monday that he was once an ardent earmarker, but now believes they should be banned.
"I feel like I'm at an AA meeting, " Santorum told a room of local Rotary Club members. "Hi, I'm Rick, and I was an earmarker."
Santorum, a Republican, represented Pennsylvania for 12 years before being ousted by Democrat Bob Casey in 2006. Like many lawmakers, Santorum secured federal funding for projects back home to fulfill local wants. But such earmarks are under increasing fire because of the national debt and fears of government run wild.
The early conversation in New Hampshire, a state that allows presidential hopefuls to test the political waters months (and in this case years) before its first primary election, reflects the immediacy of issues back in Washington, D.C.
Most Republicans, and some Democrats, in Congress today want to get rid of the earmarking process altogether, and Santorum says he'd support that. A vote is expected on Capitol Hill this week.
"I think the American public has spoken and they don't want Congress doing it," Santorum told his New Hampshire audience. "And my feeling is that if the American people believe that this is an element of whether we can trust you or not, we have to show that we want their trust, so I'm absolutely for banning earmarks."
A month ago during a visit in South Carolina, also an early primary state, Santorum took a different tone, saying the U.S. Constitution grants members of Congress the right to appropriate federal funding. Defenders of federal earmarks often say they know their districts better than federal bureaucrats do.
Santorum's visit to New Hampshire this week is his seventh. He is holding public and private meetings with local leaders as he attempts to raise his profile ahead of other big Republican names like Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney touching down in the state.
Santorum also has been to Iowa, the first state to select its presidential nominees through a caucus.http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/mc-2012-santorum-nh-20101129,0,6636345.storySantorum calls WikiLeaks founder a terrorist
MANCHESTER, N.H.—Possible Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told New Hampshire voters Tuesday that the founder of the WikiLeaks website should be prosecuted as a terrorist for posting classified national security documents.
"We haven't gone after this guy, we haven't tried to prosecute him, we haven't gotten our allies to go out and lock this guy up and bring him up on terrorism charges," Santorum said of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "What he's doing is terrorism, in my opinion."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the material and that the Obama administration was taking "aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information."
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, spoke to the Goffstown Rotary Club during his seventh trip to New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary. He said the leaked U.S. diplomatic memos have exposed a sense of growing urgency and frustration across the Middle East over Iran's nuclear ambitions, which he accused President Barack Obama of ignoring.
"This administration seems to be OK with a nuclear Iran. They're doing nothing to stop it," he said, adding that Obama should be focused on Iran instead of trying to ram a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia through Congress.
Obama has said that failing to ratify the arms pact could jeopardize improving relations with Russia and send a mixed signal to Iran about the strength of the international front against its nuclear program.
Iran will discuss its nuclear program at an international meeting in Geneva next week with the European Union's foreign affairs chief and officials from the U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany.
Santorum, who served two terms in Congress before being ousted by Democrat Bob Casey in 2006, said he's been pleased with the reception he's getting in New Hampshire as he decides whether to run for president.http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2010/11/30/santorum_encouraged_by_nh_reception/