In an ad airing in Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio, the pro–Mitt Romney super PAC, Restoring Our Future, is hitting Rick Santorum on his voting record. You can watch it below. By my observation, the ad’s claims are on firm ground. Let’s take them one by one:
“Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times . . .” True, as I wrote earlier: “(You can see the votes yourself here.) The difference between the debt limit before the first vote ($5.5 trillion) and after the last one ($8.965 trillion) [was] $3.465 trillion.”
I went with the federalist argument, which is: “Who am I in Pennsylvania to tell Alaska what their highway priorities should be?” You had a city that was separated from its airport and of course in Alaska, you have to travel by air, and you had to have a ferry. There were times when they couldn’t get across.
“In a single session, Santorum co-sponsored 51 bills to increase spending and zero to cut spending.” True, according to the Club for Growth, whose paper on Santorum the ad cites. The club argues that Santorum went easy on spending before his 2006 campaign:
In the 2003-2004 session of Congress, Santorum sponsored or cosponsored 51 bills to increase spending, and failed to sponsor or co-sponsor even one spending cut proposal. In his last Congress (2005-2006), he had one of the biggest spending agendas of any Republican — sponsoring more spending increases than Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Lincoln Chafee and Thad Cochran or Democrats Herb Kohl, Evan Bayh and Ron Wyden.
It’s worth mentioning the club applauds Santorum’s earlier record:
In the 1990s, when he was only a freshman Senator, he was a leading author on the bill that completely overhauled the country’s welfare system. He also voted for the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996 that started the process of ending direct farm subsidies. When Congress decided that it couldn’t live up to that promise, it voted to re-establish the subsidies in 2002 with the Farm Security Act, a bill that Santorum rightly opposed. He also voted for a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto in 1995.
“Santorum even voted to raise his own pay . . .” Again, true. Here are the three votes mentioned. In each case, Santorum voted to kill an amendment, offered by Senator Diane Feinstein, “to provide that members of Congress shall not receive a cost-of-living adjustment in pay” during the fiscal year.
“. . . and joined Hillary Clinton to let convicted felons vote.” And, true. Santorum was one of three Republicans (the others were Arlen Specter and Mike DeWine) to vote in favor of an amendment “to secure the federal voting rights of certain qualified persons who have served their sentences.” The amendment failed 31–63, and the 28 other senators voting in favor were Democrats, including Clinton.
UPDATE: GOP 12’s Christian Heinze compiles some of the reactions from other conservatives such as Bill Kristol and Byron York. Kristol calls Romney’s attacks, particularly on Santorum’s votes to raise the debt ceiling and for the congressional-pay increases, “juvenile.”