Club for Growth calls Santorum’s record strong at times, but says sometimes politics trump principle

The conservative Club for Growth issued a mixed review of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, applauding his record on taxes, but questioning whether politics would ultimately trump principle in his decision-making.

The report is the fourth of the Club for Growth’s Presidential White Papers, which examines each of the candidates’ records and grades them on their pro-growth policies, looking at several categories, including taxes, spending, free-trade, regulation and entitlement reform.

Club for Growth lauded the former Pennsylvania senator’s record on cutting taxes, noting only a couple “relatively small blemishes,” and concluding that in spite of those, his “record on taxes is very strong.”

On spending, however, Club for Growth is far less complimentary.

“Santorum has a mixed record and showed clear signs of varying his votes based on the election calendar,” the report says. Though Club for Growth sees Santorum as having had a strong record in his early years as a senator, and a similarly pro-growth record since leaving the senate, his middle years are problematic.

“His record is plagued by the big-spending habits that Republicans adopted during the Bush years of 2001-2006,” the report says, calling him a “prolific supporter of earmarks” and citing his votes in favor of No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug entitlement program in 2003, and a highway funding bill with lots of earmarks, including the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.

“In fact, in a separate vote, Santorum had the audacity to vote to continue funding the Bridge to Nowhere rather than send the money to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” the report says.

Club for Growth gives Santorum relatively poor marks on free trade. The report notes that he has voted in favor of free trade on several votes, “[b]ut beyond those pro-trade actions, Santorum has some real duds.”

The most prominent of those duds is a vote against NAFTA, the report says, which Santorum said at the time would be bad for several Pennsylvania industries.

On regulation, Club for Growth calls Santorum’s record “mixed.” Though he opposed card check and cap and trade, and supported drilling in ANWR, he has made some questionable votes in other areas.

One sticking point is subsidies for ethanol, on which Santorum has changed position several times. Before September 11, Santorum opposed ethanol subsidies. After, he said he changed his position in support of American produced energy. But in 2005, he voted to end the subsidies.

“If the original flip-flop was a principled stand taken by Santorum because of national security concerns, we’re at a loss to explain this flip-flop-flip-again vote,” the report says. Club for Growth points to a similar switching of positions on the minimum wage and government’s role in the housing market.

Santorum gets good marks on his entitlement reform policy for his early and continued support of reforming social security and his opposition to Obamacare. But his vote for the “massively expensive Medicare prescription drug program in 2003” is a splotch on his record.

On the subject of school choice, Club for Growth writes that “[w]hile Santorum’s school choice goals move in the right direction, he undermines that with support for too much federal government control.” The report points to his switching positions on whether or not to eliminate the Department of Education, which Club for Growth would like to see gotten rid of.

Santorum does well when it comes to tort reform, and his political activity and endorsements “have been nothing out of the ordinary or otherwise remarkable,” with the exception of his support for then-Republican incumbent Senator Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2004, and his support for the more conservative candidate in the special election in NY-23 in 2009.

Ultimately, the report says, Santorum’s record is truly a mixed bag: “quite strong in some areas and quite weak in others.”

“As president,” the report concludes, “Santorum would most likely lead the country in a pro-growth direction, but his record contains more than a few weak spots that make us question if he would resist political expediency when it comes to economic issues.”

  • sas

    Right or wrong, the great thing about Palin is that she’s her own woman. She won’t be bought and sold by the politicos of either party. There is not one other candidate, Republican or Democrat, who isn’t supported by the powerbrokers and moneyboys. She owes nothing to no one.

  • recidivist

    Does anyone really care about Santorum? Read the Club for Growth White Papers on Herman Cain. Then get behind him and start writing about the only GOP candidate worthy of the 2012 Presidential nod.

  • Mr.ManZ

    Like all the 2012 Republican presidential candidates I wish Santorum the best of luck. May The Best Man / Or Woman Win . And may Odumbo and his band wagon of fruitloops fall off a cliff.

  • whynot

    What this headline is trying to say is, “Rick, we love your craziness but the GOP/TP crazy boat is all filled up. If we need you, we have your address. Thank you for your interest.”

  • diamndgirl

    Go Rick Go…and Club for Growth isn’t be all end all.

    I watched Santorum and listened to tons of his floor speeches watched his votes for over a decade, when he spoke it was with conviction and from his heart..he has our vote in this home.

    • whynot

      You’re scamming ’em…I luv it!!!

  • fjurg

    What’s in a name?

    san-TOR-um: http://www.spreadingsantorum.com

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  • Willys

    It’s good Santorum has that behind him. Now we can move on and he can get on with his life.

    He won’t be anybody’s candidate and he’ll be something less than barely heard. Save your cash for the big guns.


    Mr Santorum?,of course he is a good representation,as good as Gov. Romney,and Mr Herman Cain,as well as Pawlenty,…alland each of them, solid americans, make no mistake on that;….and yet, there something else in the current dynamics,…Gov Sarah Palin….a real frightening nightmare, isn’t she?

    Ah!,but yes real terrifying nightmare, indeed!;…but,…to who?
    I will be brief, just walk with me.

    SARAH PALIN ,… to the liberal-democrat factions?…A REAL POWERFUL GRIZZLY BEAR WITH IRON CLAWS!

    This so obvoius, TEAM OBAMA is digging into any regular potential GOP candidate for presidency, – such as – Gov.Christie,Gov Romney, Herman Cain, Gov Pawlenty.Mr Santorum,….anyone,and everyone else around – only just to ‘play safe’ for the incoming 2012 presidential battle.

    However, even all that ‘investigative process on the opposition’ is just a routinary task for they feel secured against any candidate that the GOP may throw at them…any candidate exept one; Gov Sarah Palin.


    They have nothing of substance nor legitimate at all to battle her, they did throw everything and anything at her in the presidential battle 2008…there is nothing left for the’ lefties’ go against her,- JUST NOTHING! – only insults, insults and more insults…attaks on her family ,…inuendos on personal life …etc,etc….in others words, THE ALINSKY TACTICS….but to that!…the american public is already immune.

    So the only thing left is more insults and (of course) increase their FRAUD as they did on 2008 to allocate Obama as ‘president’.

    And is so happens that TEAM OBAMA KNOWS THIS ….as result they are counting – and also praying if you will – that Sarah Palin does not accept to go into the presidential race for they know that they don’t stand a chance with the weak front man presidential player better know as Barack Obama.

    And everyone knows who and what Obama really is, don’t we?

    He is only just a propagandist , a voice , a face for a group of Chicago corrupted politicians deep in anti-constitutionalism, a band of individuals that can be called – and known as – “THE PRESIDENTIAL CONSORTIOUM” (the real political commanders in Washington)

    A band with a destructive agenda of sabotage and decimation against our american system.

    Nobody needs a phD in astrophysics to understand this, correct?

    Input anyone? Opinions welcome.

    Daniel Cabrera

    • whynot


      You insult Governors Romney and Pawlenty and Mr Cain by associating them with Santorum. But I will give you props on Sarah—‘a real frightening nightmare, isn’t she?’

      She sure is.