Rick Santorum Announces Major Policy Roll-out As He Hits 99-County Milestone In Iowa

Nov 2, 2011 1:21pm

ABC’s Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe report:

DES MOINES, Iowa — Presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans to pivot from his 99-county tour of Iowa to a series of detailed policy speeches  that will span the areas of cultural and social issues, the economy and foreign policy, his campaign told ABC News.

Santorum is set to launch a “Faith, Family and Freedom Tour” on Friday in Iowa, a state where he has been campaigning particularly hard.

The first of three addresses the former Pennsylvania senator will deliver in connection with the tour is titled “Moral, Cultural Policies for a Santorum White House.” He will deliver the speech Friday morning at his Iowa headquarters in Urbandale.

Santorum plans to travel to New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming weeks to give two additional speeches. A campaign strategist told ABC News the candidate plans to address in detail how a Santorum administration would focus on “returning to traditional American values of faith and family; promoting freedom via economic security and stability; energy independence and securing our nation from international threats.”

On Wednesday, Santorum will hit a milestone few other presidential candidates have been able to reach: campaigning in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my grassroots volunteers and Iowa supporters who helped make this happen,” Santorum said in a statement. “However, this 99th county isn’t the end, it’s the beginning, and we’re just getting warmed up. I have listened to people in every corner of Iowa – I realize now more than ever that Iowans are similar to the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina – in that they are looking for a leader to articulate a conservative vision for the future of this country and for that leader to offer concrete solutions to restore America’s greatness. I believe I am that leader.”

Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s national communications director, said that during the candidate’s “Faith, Family and Freedom Tour,” he hopes to bring to the forefront issues that have received less attention so far during the primary season.

“The press would have you believe that the only issue is the economy – and yes, the economy is certainly a pressing issue – however, to have debates with no questions about the threat of a nuclear Iran and no questions about preserving the traditional American family is a disservice to American people,” Gidley said.

Santorum’s marathon schedule in Iowa — he often attends eight or more events in a single day — puts him at the top of the field when it comes to campaign visits to the Hawkeye state. He is expected to reach the 99-county milestone Wednesday night at the Decker House Hotel in Maquoketa in the Eastern Iowa.

According to the Des Moines Register “Candidate Tracker,” Santorum spent 69 days here with 187 events – more than his closest competitor Michele Bachmann, who has spent 51 days in Iowa holding 98 events. He’s gone to diners, libraries, and hit Iowa staples like the Pizza Ranch all over the state, holding events in both urban and rural Iowa, where sometimes only small crowds of 12 or 15 people show up. However, he’s hoping these are the people that will show up in January to caucus for him.

Traditionally, boots on the ground and meeting Iowans face to face is the key to winning the state. It worked for Gov. Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign last year. But Santorum is still struggling to gain traction nationally and in this key state. A recent Des Moines Register poll showed Santorum near the bottom of the pack with 5 percent support.

Nevertheless, on Tuesday, Santorum told ABC he thinks “hard work is going to pay off.”

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