Santorum, Up in Polls, Attracts Protesters, Glitter Bomb

Dec 31, 2011 8:11am

JOHNSTON, Iowa–Rick Santorum found himself with more press attention and more supporters at events than at any other time on the trail this week, but he also had to face attacks. It’s something he wasn’t experiencing while he was only in single digits in the polls.

In a packed town hall at a restaurant in Marshalltown, voters had to view the candidate on CSPAN on television sets throughout the restaurant, but one attendee who got to the front of the crowd asked Santorum about earmarks, saying he had been hearing about them. On Wednesday, Rick Perry released a radio ad going after the former Pennsylvania senator for supporting earmarking in the past including Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” that was never built.

Santorum noted “one of my worthy adversaries in this primary process has noticed that my poll numbers have creeped up,” but didn’t mention Perry by name. He defended the practice when he was in Congress, but said as president he wouldn’t support earmarking and that it wasn’t a problem until it became “abusive.”

“In the Constitution it says, ‘who has the power to appropriate funds?’ Congress does. So we appropriated funds. And Congress said we’ll, we’re appropriating funds, we’re levying taxes, we’re going to decide where some of that money’s spent. We’re not going to just give it to the president and let him spend it anyway he wants. Does it sound unreasonable? I don’t think so. And for a long time it wasn’t unreasonable…but what happened was there were abuses as spending exploded,” Santorum said. “And so during the 2010 election this became the watch word. You’re either against earmarks or you for big spending. And so what I’ve said is fine, let’s end earmarks.”

He added that Jim DeMint, senator from South Carolina who has railed against earmarking also practiced it in “the first six years of his term.” At his first campaign event of the day in Ames, flyers were on all the car windows in the parking lot accusing the candidate of being a “pro-life fraud.” These flyers have been passed out at events in the past, but Thursday’s stop was the first time there was a mass of press to see them.

Santorum consistently talks about his anti-abortion stance without exceptions at every campaign stop, but the flyers accuse him of backing politicians who support abortion rights.

He then headed to Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines, to watch his second football game of the day. This time it was the University of Iowa playing Oklahoma and instead of the Iowa State sweater vest he donned in Ames he wore a University of Iowa hat as he watched the game with supporters. He was again mobbed by press — although a much smaller contingent than his event in Ames — as he walked in and he was greeted by a protester who tried to “glitter bomb” him. The protester partly missed, with purple glitter ending up on both the candidate and the floor.

Other candidates have experienced being glittered; it’s usually used as a form of protest by gay rights activists. Thursday evening, the protester left the Okoboji Grill immediately. Santorum also mentions his passionate opposition to same-sex marriage at almost every one of his events on the trail, but until polls showed him moving upwards he was rarely greeted by protesters. Despite some purple glitter on his jacket, the candidate shrugged it off making his way through the cameras and reporters to sit with supporters, watch football, and drink a Guinness.

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