In the attacks on Santorum, earmarks – special projects for the home state or district – were Exhibit A. Santorum tried to explain that there were good earmarks and bad earmarks, launching into a discussion of the V-22 Osprey military aircraft and his efforts to save the program.
In highlighting a “good earmark” – federal money for security at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics – Romney served up the most memorable barb of the evening: “While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere,” he said to Santorum.
Santorum apologized for his 2001 vote in favor of No Child Left Behind, then-President Bush’s signature education program, which some conservatives oppose. Santorum said he opposed it at the time but voted for it anyway.
“I have to admit I voted for that,” Santorum said. “It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team for the leader, and I made a mistake.”
The audience booed.