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An Open Challenge to Supporters of Rick Santorum

UPDATE: A commenter found this from October 19, 2008, shortly after the passage of TARP. I think the reporter is at least somewhat confused by what Santorum was saying but it is clear that Santorum came across as anything but a crusading opponent of TARP:

This from a man who also spent a long part of the visit explaining the intricacies of the financial bailout bill; the reason the added “sweeteners” could benefit the economy; his worries that not enough private sector money went into the package.

Earlier today I challenged supporters of Rick Santorum to name me one instance in which Santorum stood against other Republicans on spending. The one and only answer I received is that he opposed TARP. Everyone seems to take it for granted that this is a legitimate defense of Santorum. What no one has produced thus far is any evidence that Rick Santorum opposed TARP at the time it was being discussed.

The first mention I can find of Santorum opposing TARP was in his speech to CPAC in 2010, when he was already considering a run for the Presidency. Before that, I have found a giant, gaping vacuum with respect to Rick Santorum’s opinions about TARP. And I am not the only one who has noticed. If you are the sort of person who thinks opposing TARP was a good idea, then you would at least have to credit Gingrich for being on the record in 2008 opposing it. As far as I can tell, Rick Santorum had absolutely nothing to say about it one way or the other at the time it was being discussed. It is all fine and good for Rick Santorum to second-guess TARP two years after the fact, when the GOP primary electorate had already condemned it en masse, but that is something for which he deserves absolutely no credit from a courage for bucking leadership standpoint.

Given the fact that Rick Santorum never turned down a request for higher spending that came from Bush or Frist during his entire tenure, it beggars the imagination to think that he would have suddenly found religion on spending when it came to TARP, if he were still in office at the time. However, right now there’s no evidence that Rick Santorum even opposed TARP from the comfort of his own living room at the time it was actually being discussed.

So this is my challenge to Santorum supporters who are using his alleged opposition to TARP to bolster his fiscally conservative bona fides – can anyone produce any evidence whatsoever that Rick Santorum opposed TARP before TARP was actually passed?

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