Rick Santorum Places Third in South Carolina, Pledges to Run a National Campaign

Jan 21, 2012 11:45pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Rick Santorum placed third Saturday evening in  the South Carolina primary, just a  day  after he was officially “affirmed” the winner of the Iowa caucuses. He came in behind Newt Gingrich, who won the first-in-the-south primary and Mitt Romney, who placed second.

It’s the first time there have been three different winners in the three early states.

Santorum greeted an enthusiastic group supporters at The Citadel, the military academy, and told them he would continue on to Florida on Sunday.

“Three states, three winners, what a great country,” Santorum said to cheers of “We pick Rick!” from the crowd. “Let me assure you, we will go to Florida, and then to Arizona, and Colorado, and …” he said before being overwhelmed by chanting.

Declaring, “It’s a wide open race!” the former Pennsylvania senator said he had called his “good buddy” Gingrich to wish him congratulations on “an amazing victory for him.”

“He’s been up, he’s been down, but he’s never stopped fighting,” Santorum said of his rival.

The race was a bruising battle between Gingrich and Romney, the perceived frontrunner until now, and tonight’s results guarantee a longer primary season that it initially looked like when Romney was incorrectly crowned the victor in Iowa and then immediately won New Hampshire.

Longtime Santorum adviser John Brabender said their strategy going forward is to look beyond the next state of Florida, pledging to run a national campaign.

“Up until now you’ve had three states where we’ve focused on,” Brabender told ABC News. “Now we move to a national campaign where there are a lot of states and a lot more time … it’s more about having a national voice. There are really only three candidates left on the island. Ron Paul is on his own island, so I can’t speak to that.”

When asked if they will have enough resources to compete in Florida, a state where it is very expensive to advertise, and run the national campaign Brabender mentioned, he answered that with the amount of media focus on the race now it’s much easier to get the message out. He said now that Gingrich won the Palmetto state, he will come under increased scrutiny.

“We have cash in the bank, we have no debt, we can go on infinitely,” Brabender said. “With so much national attention, television is less important.”

Brabender said their message would stay the same, while he predicted Romney would be forced to change direction adding, “Tonight is a disaster for Mitt Romney.”

However, it was Santorum who has spent the most amount of time in the state, first making visits here almost a year ago. In his speech he repeated the story of his grandfather working in a coal mine in Somerset, Pa., as the reason he got into the race, but he also mentioned Shanksville, Pa., and the plane hijacked and crashed there on Sept. 11, 2001, something he doesn’t usually refer to on the stump. He said it was the place “where the first blow for freedom was struck in this war against radical Jihadism.”

“I wanted to stand there … to make a clarion call that this race and this campaign was not about tearing people, not about negative ads, it’s not going to be about anything besides painting a bold vision for this country based on the belief in the working class values that my grandfather taught to me,” he said.

He previewed one way he will tailor his message going forward, saying: “It’s great to be up shoulder to shoulder” with his rivals, but his focus is different.

“I’m going to talk about having a conservative movement that makes sure that everybody in America has an opportunity, not just those who have a little bit of an advantage, but every person should have an opportunity to rise in America again,” Santorum said to cheers. “It’s a pretty simple formula that values work … we want to give everyone an opportunity to rise in society and that’s what’s missing.”

Despite the populist message, as Santorum was walking off the stage shaking hands with supporters about a dozen Occupy protesters began chanting, “Rick Santorum you’re a bigot, Occupy!” They then threw green glitter on a group of supporters.

Supporters began chanting, “We pick Rick!” over the group and surrounded them escorting them outside. They left a trail of green glitter on the floor and on supporters including an older man left with a stunned look on his face.

SHOWS:
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus