Santorum Says He Was a Washington ‘Outsider’ While He Was an ‘Insider’

Feb 21, 2012 5:41pm

PHOENIX — Rick Santorum fought back against an ad campaign sponsored by the pro-Romney super PAC that calls him a “Washington insider” and a “big spender,” arguing in his first event in Arizona that the ads are dead wrong.

The former Pennsylvania senator told the Maricopa County GOP that he may have been in the House and Senate for 16 years, but he was an “outsider” the whole time he was in Washington, contrary to what the super PAC Restore Our Future ads  that have been running in the state for a week say.

“It’s interesting because you hear a lot of talk about who’s the insider and who’s the outsider in this race. And I think it’s really fascinating that here’s the guy who was outside of Washington, who was not a senator or congressman — not because he didn’t try — he just never got elected,” Santorum said, referring to Mitt Romney without mentioning his name.

“But someone who was inside Washington who was an outsider when he was inside … because when we came to Congress, we came and we shook things up to its very core,” he said. “We went there and we exposed scandal after scandal — bi-partisan scandal, bi-partisan scandals where Republicans and Democrats were doing things to undermine the credibility of Washington, DC.”

In a brand new line in his stump speeches, Santorum listed his work with the Gang of Seven, including exposing the House banking and Congressional post office scandals as reasons he bucked his own party and was an “outsider.”

“It took a group of young folks, a group of young members, who said, ‘We don’t care about the pressure from the establishment in Washington. We don’t care that the leaders, that those who have sway over your committee assignments and all the other things — they’re called perks of being able to rise in the Congress — we don’t care. We’re going to do what’s right for the American people.’ And we stood up and we exposed that scandal, and there were a lot of reasons for the victory in 1994,” Santorum said. “But one of the principle reasons was that we exposed broad corruption in Congress after 40 years of Democratic control, and a 32-year-old member, along with six other folks, was willing to have the courage to stand up inside the institution and make the changes that were necessary. That’s what we need again in Washington, D.C.”

Restore Our Future has spent $120,000 in ads in Arizona, mostly all negative ones that attack Santorum and Newt Gingrich. In total, the superPAC has spent about $14 million on advertising hitting Romney’s opponents.

Santorum spent much of his speech at the Lincoln Day lunch hitting Romney on the ads. He said he got things done in Washington, “unlike some folks who criticize people who actually get elected and actually try to do things, we actually when we were there again, we made a difference inside the institution.”

He mentioned Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and their work together to impose term limits on Republican leadership in the senate, really pushing the message that he was willing to take out even his own party to get things done. It’s a popular message with the tea party, a group that was largely represented at the event.

“Going in there not being one of the crowd, not being part of the establishment, shaking things up and making a difference that the record I have not just on reforms we can accomplish, but it’s a record of reforms in the United States and the Congress to cut spending,” Santorum said. “You see all these commercials Rick Santorum is a big spender, but they never once mention, talk about how I voted for any increase in the appropriation bills. Why? Because I never did. I voted to cut appropriation bills. They never talk about I voted for a tax increase. Why? Because I never did in sixteen years of public life. I voted for smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation the things that we need desperately in this country.”

The Romney campaign quickly responded to the “Outsider, Insider” hit saying, “Republican primary voters have a clear choice.”

“Mitt Romney spent his career helping turn around companies, the Olympics, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At the same time, Congressman/Senator Rick Santorum spent his career in Washington, voting repeatedly to increase the debt ceiling and his own pay. If business as usual in Washington is the problem, Rick Santorum can’t be part of the solution,” Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams said in a statement.

The latest Gallup tracking poll shows Santorum up against Romney ten points nationally and a new Time/CNN poll shows Romney with a slight lead in Arizona with 36 percent support to Santorum’s 32 percent.

He told the audience their “honor” is “at stake” in the election asking them to “stand up and fight back for freedom” against the superPAC ads raging on Arizona television.

“Will you be the generation that let the flame go out?” Santorum said to screams of “No!”

“Will you be the generation that succumbed to the siren song that government can do better for you than you can do for yourself? Will you be the generation that sat on the sidelines and watched as candidate after candidate comes up and the national media takes their ax out to try to destroy them in every way possible as they’ve done with every single Republican candidate and as they will between now and the election, and will you sit on the sidelines and say, ‘Boy that’s not fair.’ Or will you stand up and fight back for freedom?”

The audience rose and gave the candidate a standing ovation, wildly applauding.

Santorum acknowledged that Arizonans are “struggling” with one of the highest foreclosure rates and illegal immigration, a hot button topic that is still one of the most important issues to Republicans in this state that votes Feb. 28.

“”A week ago, you celebrated the centennial of the state of Arizona,” Santorum said to the crowd of about 2,000. “You celebrated what you were able to build and your ancestors, to build this great and now prosperous state that, like all other states, is struggling right now. Struggling with high rates of foreclosure, unemployment. Struggling with an immigration program that the federal government is completely inattentive to under this administration. Struggling, but still fighting.”

He told Arizonans they can “speak loudly on Tuesday,” giving his pitch to a room full of activists who interrupted him throughout his speech with applause.

He told them he’s “not a manager,” a clear reference to Romney, and “not a visionary,” a reference to Gingrich and his sweeping policy ideas.

“That you want someone who’s going to stand up and fight the insiders, fight the establishment who has a track record of doing it, a track record of cutting spending and taking on the big problems of entitlements,” Santorum said. “I’m not a manager. I’m not a visionary. I’m a guy from a steel town who grew up understanding what made this country great and for the years that I’ve been involved in public life, put my heart and my effort on the line to make this country the kind of country that we all want to hand on to our children and grandchildren.”

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