Rick Santorum's Way to Win? Run a Campaign on a Shoestring Budget


Even an item as basic and relatively inexpensive as a "mult box" -- a piece of audio equipment that allows television cameras and radio reporters covering an event to get a clear audio signal -- is a rare sight at Santorum's campaign stops. (The campaign splurged for the boxes during the South Carolina primary and when Santorum stumped in Idaho on Tuesday.)

Months ago, when Santorum was still in the low single digits in national polls, reporters would simply attach a microphone directly to the candidate -- often to his signature sweater vest -- in order to get higher-quality sound.

The frugality extends to almost every area of Santorum's presidential bid.

The campaign, for example, does not employ a pollster.

At an event in Idaho on Tuesday night, a campaign aide was spotted filling a manila envelope with cash and checks from enthusiastic donors, a twist on passing the collection plate, and a sight never seen at Romney's events.

Unlike Romney, Newt Gingrich and even candidates who have bowed out of the race, including Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Santorum has never traveled in a custom-outfitted campaign bus. In Iowa, Santorum's volunteer adviser, Chuck Laudner, drove the candidate and his small entourage around the state in his pickup truck.

Laudner and his "Chuck Truck," as it became known, traveled to other early primary states, including South Carolina, to get Santorum to events. At other times, however, Santorum has used a private jet to fly from state to state.

Although more staff members have been added in recent weeks, the campaign still relies on volunteer manpower to fill in the gaps as paid staff members spread themselves across the country. (The campaign maintains a post office box in Verona, Pa., which it lists on official filings with the Federal Election Commission.)

National communications director Hogan Gidley is based in South Carolina, Brabender and spokesman Matt Beynon live in Virginia and deputy campaign manager Jill Latham is in Iowa.

"You can do so much virtually," Stewart, who was chief spokeswoman for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign, said in an interview with ABC News. "And, to be honest, it's a much more fiscally responsible way to operate."

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