Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are clashing on spending requests during a sharp confrontation that fellow Republican Newt Gingrich calls "silly" as the Republican presidential contenders' debate.

Romney on Wednesday criticized Santorum's tenure in the House and Senate for spending requests he sought.

Santorum says Romney is trying to have it both ways because Romney sought financial help to fund the Olympic Games he ran, and later sought federal tax dollars as Massachusetts governor.

Santorum is defending earmarks as a useful way to override an administration's goals and chiding Romney as not knowing what he is talking about. He also calls Ron Paul a "prolific" earmarker.

Romney says he was "fighting to save the Olympics," while Santorum was "fighting to save the Bridge to Nowhere."