Romney Was Once Proud to Be a Washington Insider

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Mitt Romney has been attacking Rick Santorum for growing the government for weeks, but in 2002, back when Santorum was in Congress making those earmarks, Romney was bragging how good he was at securing them.

"I am big believer in getting money where the money is, and the money's in Washington," Romney said in 2002 during a PowerPoint presentation when he was running to be Massachusetts's governor, ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports. Then, as now, he was promising to grow the economy. But back then, he thought the way to do it was not by cutting federal spending.

"I want to go after every grant, every project, every department in Washington to assure that we are taking advantage of economic development opportunities," Romney told the New Bedford Industrial Foundation on October 16, 2002. He boasted that he got "over $410 million from the federal government for the Olympic games" (the Salt Lake Tribune reports that if you include indirect costs, it was $1.3 billion -- Romney was underselling his accomplishments). Romney's spokesman told ABC that the comparison isn't really fair, since "Every state budget in the country is dependent on federal funding, and every governor in the country makes requests for funding, but governors do not get to decide how Congress appropriates money," Andrea Saul said.

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But Romney's attacks on Santorum's spending haven't all been fair either. It's not really fair to blame Santorum for federal spending increasing by 80 percent when he was in the Senate, as the Romney campaign has said multiple times. Romney told Portland TV interview February 9:

He’s a strong defender of earmarks. I oppose earmarks. I want to absolutely end earmarks. He grew government when he was in Washington by some 80 percwnt, and voted to raise the debt ceiling five different times –  and did so without looking for compensating cuts in the federal spending. I balanced the budget in my state for the four years that I was there, and put together a rainy day fund. So we have very differing views and a very different history, on earmarks, on spending and on borrowing.

Their views aren't so different at all: Santorum defends earmarks when they fund important projects, and Romney thought his project was pretty important. But the Romney campaign repeated the charge February 16. And at the February 22 debate, Romney said, "My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington. And I will fight for the people of America, not special interests." ABC's video shows that when he's fighting for the American people, Romney usually wants Washington insiders on the team.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.