Late Surge Puts Rick Santorum in the Spotlight

Dec 31, 2011 4:42pm
gty rick santorum nt 111229 wblog Late Surge Puts Rick Santorum in the Spotlight

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ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone report:

INDIANOLA, Iowa- Rick Santorum was greeted with another scene he hasn’t seen much of since entering the race , an event packed with almost as many press as voters.

Gone was the usual one to two hour town hall, instead replaced with a short stump, some handshaking and then reporters and cameras chasing him outside to the pick-up truck he rides in from stop to stop.

He was not ready to boast about his new place on the leaderboard in Iowa telling reporters, “I know a candidate a few weeks ago who was acting like that” adding he still has “a lot of work” to do.

Outside of the Indianola Public Library he was swarmed while doing an interview with CBS News’ Jan Crawford.

Without mentioning Mitt Romney by name he said he’s “always scratched my head at suggestions that the guy that can win, that the guy who ran as a liberal could win.”

He then went into a line that will clearly be repeated over the next three days as he tries to get voters away from the Iowa frontrunner.

If Santorum does well here it’s an attack that is sure to be repeated in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“(He’s) never run as a conservative and won anything. Why would you think that he can attract votes from communities that I grew up in. I grew up in a Southwestern Pennsylvania steel town, a blue collar neighborhood, son of an immigrant and those are the states that we have to win and I think that’s what people in Iowa are looking for,” Santorum said.

The former Pennsylvania senator said “there is more than a little narrow issue called jobs. It’s a huge issue, but there is more to being a president and there is more to that issue than what your economic plan is.”

He said he can win Iowa on Tuesday.

“We didn’t come here to lose,” Santorum said, wearing a new gray Rick Santorum for President sweater vest. “I mean I came here to win and I think you see from the pace of the campaign we are putting everything in and if you had asked me that days ago when I was sitting at five percent in the polls you probably wouldn’t have asked me that so I think the fact that you are asking it gives you some sense that we are doing well.”

The day after the caucuses on Tuesday he will make his 13th trip to New Hampshire.

On Friday, he noted his numbers in the Granite State “are pretty much where they were in Iowa equidistant out from the primary so…I think we will do better than people expect.”

He said his campaign office in Bedford, New Hampshire is “full of people making phone calls.” “I have said from the beginning if Iowa gives us the little bit of a spark then we got a lot of tinder on the ground in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Santorum said. “We’ve got a lot of folks in Florida calling us and have been calling for weeks and we’ve got folks in Nevada working.”

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