Perry Demands that Santorum Explain Earmarks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WATERLOO, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry demanded former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whom he dubbed a “prolific earmarker” Thursday, explain his support of earmarks for pet projects, including a teapot museum and an indoor rainforest.

“Senator Santorum, just to get a little more specific here, please tell me why you asked taxpayers to support the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. Why did you ask the taxpayers of Iowa to support a teapot museum in North Carolina, an indoor rainforest in Iowa, and the mountain sheep institute, Montana sheep institute? Why were those important enough for you to vote for?” Perry said to more than 100 people crowded into two rooms at Doughy Joey’s Peetza-Joint.

Perry, who first launched his direct attacks on Santorum on Thursday, also slammed him for voting in favor of raising the debt ceiling eight times.

An NBC Marist poll released Friday showed Perry in fourth place in Iowa with 14 percent support, one point behind Santorum.

In the same city where he first presented himself to Iowans in August, the Texas governor, who was introduced by his wife, Anita, whom he described as “the love of my life,” tugged at the patriotic heart strings of Waterloo residents, speaking about the Sullivan brothers, a family from this town who lost all five of their sons in the sinking of the USS Juneau during World War II.

“You can’t come to this town without thinking about those individuals and the sacrifice that they made,” said Perry of the Sullivan brothers. “I can’t imagine the anguish that went through the parents of that family when they were notified that all five of their sons were lost on the USS Juneau.”

“My friends here in Waterloo, you know as well as anyone that freedom is not free. It comes with a cost, the cost of blood shed on the altar of freedom,” Perry continued after reading from the letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Bixby, a mother whose five sons died during the Civil War.

As he left the venue, Perry was approached by a struggling small business owner who emotionally asked the Texas governor if he was going to make things better. Perry grasped the woman’s shoulders, explained the small business initiatives he implemented, and told her to “have faith.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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