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Rick Perry Pounces on ‘Prolific Earmarker’ Rick Santorum

ABC News(WASHINGTON, Iowa) -- One day after Rick Santorum surged to third place in an Iowa poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hammered the former Pennsylvania senator for his including earmarks in bills he presented in Congress, labeling Santorum as a “prolific earmarker.”

“When he talks about fiscal conservatism, every now and then it kind of leaves me scratching my head because he was a prolific earmarker,” Perry told a group of caucus-goers at the Coffee Corner in Iowa. “As we talk about the things that are wrong with Washington, D.C., these earmarks are a great example of how the runaway spending has occurred.”

Earmarks direct approved funds to specific projects or programs.

“I love Iowa pork, but I hate Washington pork, and Sen. Santorum, he loaded up his bills with Pennsylvania pork,” Perry continued. “He even voted for the Alaska bridge to nowhere.”

Perry cited a 2009 quote in which Santorum relayed his pride and eagerness to defend the earmarks he included in his bills.

“Well Sen. Santorum, I’m going to give you that opportunity to defend your earmarks because earmarks are the gateway drug to the spending habit that they have in Washington D.C. It’s what’s wrong with Congress,” said Perry.

On a November trip to New Hampshire, Santorum admitted he once supported earmarks, though he now opposes them, joking at a Rotary Club event that “I feel like I’m at an AA meeting...Hi, I’m Rick, and I was an earmarker.”

Perry has criticized other candidates in recent weeks for supporting earmarks, including Newt Gingrich, whom he characterized as the “granddaddy of earmarks,” and Ron Paul, who Perry said is “still birthing earmarks.”

Speaking to a crowd of about 60 caucus-goers in what Perry described as, “the good Washington,” Perry touted his part-time Congress plan as a solution to wasteful spending in Washington, D.C.

Perry was booed by two men, who joined their hands together in the air as the Texas governor talked about defense of marriage laws. The conservative crowd tried to drown out the men’s boos with applause and cheers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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