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GOP debate: Paul slams Santorum

January 07, 2012|By Robin Abcarian
  • Ron Paul makes a point as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum look on at Saturday night's debate in Manchester, N.H.
Ron Paul makes a point as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum look on at Saturday… (Win McNamee / Getty Images )

Saturday night's ABC/Yahoo debate got personal pretty quick, as Ron Paul explained, at the urging of moderator George Stephanopoulos, why he has accused former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in ads of corruption.

“It was a quote,” explained Paul. “Somebody did make a survey and he came up as one of the top corrupt individuals because he took so much from lobbyists.”

At that moment, there was a loud thump, the origin of which was unclear.

Santorum piped up: “They caught you not telling the truth, Ron.”

Paul, humorless as ever, barely paused as he accused Santorum of voting against right-to-work legislation, voting “to double the size of the Department of Education” by supporting the No Child Left Behind bill championed by President George W. Bush and voting to increase the federal entitlement program known as Medicare Plan D.

“So he’s a big-government person,” said Paul. And, he added, after Santorum left the Senate, he “became a high-powered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., he’s done quite well… We should find out how much he’s made.”

Santorum, who finally after a dozen or so debates, has earned the spot at center stage next to continual front-runner Mitt Romney, came out swinging:

“It’s a ridiculous charge ... Ron, I am a conservative, I am not a libertarian.”

Bridling at the term “lobbyist,” Santorum said that when he left the U.S. Senate, “I got involved in causes I believe in.” Those causes involved Iran, and working for a healthcare company, and coal mining.

“My grandfather was a coal miner, and when I left the U.S. Senate, one of the big issues on the table was cap-and-trade and global warming and I wanted to stay in the fray, so I contacted a coal compay and said I want to help you any way I can to defeat cap and trade.”

Paul shot back: “You are a big spender. You are a big-government conservative. To say you are a conservative is a stretch. Somebody has to point out your record.”

The back and forth gave Texas Gov. Rick Perry his first opening. “This is a great example of why I got in this race,” said Perry, who is trailing in the polls and is now pinning his hopes on South Carolina. “Americans are looking for an outsider that is not corrupted by the process.”

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