Perry attacks Santorum on earmarks, calls him a 'porker's best friend'

Rick Perry attacked Rick Santorum as a "porker's best friend" in a new Web ad Monday, the day before the Iowa caucuses.

Santorum has surged in the polls in recent days, moving into third place while Perry is in fifth.

Perry is competing with Santorum and Michele Bachmann for conservative evangelical voters, who make up the majority of caucus voters in the state.

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He has stepped up his attacks on Santorum, calling him a "prolific earmarker" and saying it shows the former Pennsylvania senator is not a fiscal conservative. Cutting government spending is a major issue for the conservative grassroots movement.

Monday's ad attacks Santorum's Senate voting record on earmarks.

It opens with footage of pigs with the text asking: "Why are these pigs so happy?" and calls the former senator a "porker's best friend."

The ad repeatedly airs a portion of an interview where Santorum says: '"I'll defend earmarks."

It notes Santorum voted "to spend millions on the Bridge to Nowhere," voted "for a teapot museum in North Carolina" and supported a Montana Sheep Institute.

The 60-second ad will be "distributed to Iowa activists and caucus-goers through the Internet," according to Perry's campaign.

Santorum told The Huffington Post on Friday: "In the Constitution it says who has the power to appropriate funds: Congress does. So we appropriate funds."

He also said he would not support earmarks in the future. "I admit it, I once was an earmarker. And I apologize," he said.

The Texas governor also attacked Santorum in an interview with the "Today Show" on Monday.

"You've got Rick Santorum who's talked about being a fiscal conservative, but he's voted eight times to raise the debt ceiling. He's raised the debt ceiling more than Obama has. He's a serial earmarker and as a matter of fact stood up as late as yesterday and said he was proud of all those earmarks," he said.

He also ridiculed Santorum's ability to challenge President Obama in a general election contest. "He lost by 18 points," he said of Santorum's failed senatorial reelection bid. "This guy has proven he can't win races when it matters against a liberal Democrat," he said.