In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Attention GOP Porkers: Hatch Had His Earmark Requests Stripped From Spending Bill

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Newscom / Scott J. Ferrell

On Wednesday morning, in a tense exchange with reporters at a press conference, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and John Cornyn (R-TX) swatted away tough questions about the tension between their positions on the bill, and the fact that the bill is loaded up with their earmark requests.

This afternoon, I asked Thune, a likely GOP presidential candidate, why he didn't do what Hatch did.

"I guess I hadn't thought about doing it," he confessed. "The resolution that we passed applied to the next two years, it didn't apply to this budget year [but] we are where we are now, the bill's on the floor, but I think that we have an opportunity to strip earmarks out on the floor, we will. And we may get that opportunity."

It already looks like an awfully shrewd move by Hatch, who will be able to face the anti-earmark crusaders in his base and say he honored their will.

"People have the right to do whatever they want," he said. "I just felt my own personal moral obligation to do that."