Rick Santorum Gets A Big Polling Boost, Goes After Ron Paul

Dec 29, 2011 1:50am

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Just hours after a new poll was released showing Rick Santorum surging to third place in the state with only six days to go before the caucuses, the beaming GOP hopeful, clad in his signature sweater vest, spoke to about 100 supporters and those still making up their mind for almost two hours Wednesday evening.

During the question and answer part of the town hall Santorum was asked about Ron Paul’s support in Iowa, and the former Pennsylvania senator let loose on the Texas Congressman.

“Ron Paul says he’s going to eliminate five departments. Ron Paul passed one bill in 20 years. What give you the idea that he can eliminate anything? I mean, he has absolutely no track record of building any kind of coalition to get anything done anywhere,” Santorum said. “I understand the appeal that Ron Paul has: it’s simple, it’s short — but there’s no track record there.”

Santorum also went after Paul on his foreign policy stances, calling him “far to the left of President Obama.”

“I mean he’s out in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party. Don’t laugh!” Santorum said to the crowd as they began to chuckle, and they immediately got quiet. “That’s where he is. He may be left of Dennis Kucinich, okay? So that’s where he is. This country is not going to elect Dennis Kucinich to be President of the United States. I don’t care how much government he wants to cut.

“What people in Iowa like about Ron Paul is all of his economic talk which requires Congress to act of which he has showed no ability to get them to do,” Santorum added. “What they don’t like about Ron Paul is this craziness about cutting the military in half and getting our troops out of everywhere. He can do that. He can actually order that on day one — all our troops around the world to come home.”

He said the “danger” of Paul’s international policies “should just chill every Iowan.”

“People say, ‘Well he won’t really do that.’ Well he’ll be 78 years old. How many 78-years-olds say — after saying this for 30 years — are going to change their mind?” Santorum asked. “Let’s just be honest about it. By then you are sort of set in your ways. It’s not like this is new, so let’s get serious about what message Iowa is going to send to the country, and the message has to be that we want a responsible conservative.”

Paul is actually 76 years old.

After the event, Santorum told reporters that despite the clear boost in support the CNN/Time poll showed “we have a lot of work to do” and pledged to keep “working hard.”

“We’re not first, and those polls have been all over the map and it shows we’ve made progress — it shows the people of Iowa are getting down to making the tough decisions to who they are going to support in their final analysis,” Santorum said. “And I feel very, very good that all of the work that we paid here, the strong message we put forward, the background and record we have, people are searching and looking at right now and trying to determine who can we really trust.”

Santorum came in third in the survey with 16 percent support, behind Mitt Romney with 25 percent support and Ron Paul with 22 percent.

Six weeks ago Santorum told ABC News that his campaign would get a surge — like all the candidates have had — right before the caucuses, but Wednesday he said, “One poll does not make a boomlet.” He also tried to contrast himself not only with Paul, but with the other Iowa frontrunner.

“We are growing by leaps and bounds,” Santorum said. “Folks in Iowa who care about this process, who care to make sure Iowa gets the right to lift up — make sure Iowa lifts up the right person to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, to be the right alternative to Barack Obama.”

Kurt Crock came in from Mt. Vernon, about 25 minutes away, to listen to Santorum. He told ABC News that he finally made up his mind and just became a supporter 24 hours ago. He’s never caucused before, but he already signed up to be a caucus captain for Santorum next Tuesday.

“He’s the one who talks about family,” Crock said, referring to Santorum. “He’s the only one addressing that issue. He’s the only one who brought it up in the debates. It’s more in his literature than anybody so that’s why. He’s the one who talks about the importance of family to our country, to our communities and if he’s talking about it now, he’ll talk about it there and maybe some of these problems can get fixed.”

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