When Mitt Romney needed an earmark, he went to C.W. Bill Young
Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, hates earmarks. But it wasn't always that way, and when he needed one -- to provide security for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games -- Romney went to Florida's earmark king.
"He came to me, we worked it out together," recalled Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, who was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in 2002. "After it was all over, he surprised me one day, he brought me in a replica of the Olympic torch."
Reports indicate that Romney secured $60 million for perimeter security. "It was an earmark but it was to protect athletes from all over the world," said Young, who brought hundreds of millions in earmarks back to Pinellas County and helped grow a defense contracting industry.
Romney's Olympics earmarks came to light amid his repeated attacks on Rick Santorum's pursuit of budget goodies while he was in the Senate. Santorum called him a hypocrite.
"Some of the things in the primary got off track," Young said. "I did not like it all. But I remember that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did the same thing right to the very end and it didn't hurt Obama."
"Politics is an interesting profession," Young went on. "It's flexible. It changes. Moods change. Perceptions change. Except for me. I guess I'm the same guy that I was when I first got here. Philosophically. My votes are basically the same."
Young said he thinks conservatives will rally around Romney. "He is a very likable guy and he is a really smart guy. They are thinking he can't compete with Obama on the stump; I believe he can."