Rick Santorum Says He’s Going Nowhere, in It for ‘Long Haul’

Jan 26, 2012 2:16pm
gty rick santorum dm 120104 wblog Rick Santorum Says Hes Going Nowhere, in It for Long Haul

(Image Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rick Santorum is going nowhere. After an event here today at Florida State University, he made it clear that he will not be getting out of the race, despite persistent rumors to the contrary.

“We are just going to continue to work hard,” Santorum said after an event with the College Republicans. “We’re not going anywhere. We are going to be in this race, we are going to stay in this race for the long haul. We are planning for the next states. We took a little time last night to take a little planning time and we are staffing up, we are deploying resources.”

When asked if he has been contacted by one of his rivals about dropping out and endorsing him, he said, “No. And it wouldn’t matter if it did. I’m not,” Santorum told reporters.

A Santorum aide echoed that sentiment when asked whether Newt Gingrich’s campaign had been in touch about Santorum’s dropping out and endorsing the former speaker of the House.

“No, no, heck no, absolutely not,” the aide told ABC News, adding that the rumors are “absolutely not true.” Santorum said he believes the rumors are “coming from the other camps,” adding, “I guarantee you we are going to be in this race for a long time.

“We’ve run a very conservative campaign. We only spend the money we get, we don’t spend any more,” Santorum said, adding that they are in “cash-plus position” because of recent fundraisers and have “plenty of money to hire staff.”

Despite Florida’s most likely being a winner-takes-all state – meaning the victor next Tuesday will be awarded all the state’s delegates – Santorum has decided to campaign across the Sunshine State instead of holding events in Nevada, Colorado and Maine, which are upcoming caucus states where delegates will be awarded proportionally. But they are still laying groundwork in those other places, he said.

“We have staff in Colorado. We have staff in Nevada. We have grassroots programs underway in both of those states,” Santorum said. “We are in the process of – we’ve got some volunteers doing similar things in Minnesota, but we don’t have a staff there in Minnesota or Maine. We’re focused more on Nevada and Colorado. We think there are maybe better opportunities for us. And we also have … a lot of folks helping us in Missouri for the primary vote there coming up in.”

Santorum, 53, will participate this evening in the CNN debate in Jacksonville and travel Friday to Miami for a campaign event there before heading home to Virginia, where he now lives, for a fundraiser rescheduled from Wednesday. He also said he is going to spend time at home with his family and get his tax returns from his home computer so they can be released.

He has another fundraiser Saturday evening in his home state of Pennsylvania, but will be back in Florida late Saturday night for a campaign event at a large Orthodox synagogue in Boca Raton. Although South Florida has a more politically moderate population than other parts of the state, the synagogue has a large conservative congregation and GOP candidates tend to stop there.

He wouldn’t commit to being in the state on primary day, though, saying he doesn’t want to waste a day he could be in another state campaigning. He instead suggested they would be in one of those upcoming caucus states.

“I will be here Monday. I am just trying to figure out Monday from that point on what we are going to do and whether we are going to stay here Election Day, which you really can’t campaign and maybe go to another state and start campaigning other places,” Santorum said. “We want to use every single day to campaign and so we are sort of up in there on how that works …”

Santorum said he will “campaign everywhere we can … we can’t let grass grow.”

“One of the things that we even debated in South Carolina whether to stick around because South Carolina election day was sort of a wasted day for us,” Santorum said. “So we were just thinking what’s the best use of my time. It’s limited. We’ve got four more primaries coming up in a week, less than a week. Nevada’s in just a few days after it, and we just thought we got to start planting our flag and going to those next states on Tuesday instead of standing here and doing a celebration in a state where the election’s over by the time you’ve made your precedent.”

The candidate said his plan is to continue to pick up delegates as the process goes on, even stressing that the race will change dramatically between now and August, meaning he is open to staying in the race through the convention and trying to grab delegates through that time.

“This is only the fourth primary. We have a long, long way to go. We got apportioned delegates in most of the states and we feel very comfortable that as we keep going we are going to pick up our delegates,” Santorum said. “We are going to stay in this race and the longer we are in it, the better off we will be, the more people will recognize what we bring to the ticket and some of the great vulnerabilities the other folks have in order to defeat Barack Obama.”

At the event in the student union of Florida State University, Santorum answered a student’s question and criticized Gingrich’s plan for a moon colony by the end of his second term. Gingrich mentioned it on the trail Wednesday.

“The idea that anybody’s going out and talking about brand new, very expensive schemes to spend more money at a time when we do not have our fiscal house in order, in my opinion, is playing crass politics and not being realistic with the people of this country as to the nature and gravity of the problem,” Santorum told the student.

He spoke at a prayer breakfast early this morning sponsored by the Christian Family Coalition, also on FSU’s campus. He was introduced by Mitt Romney- endorser and Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who said the amount of press at the event must be because the next president of the United States might be here.

He also spoke warmly of Santorum, saying he knows the candidate “wants to engage in the debate … instead of saying things that are unkind.”

Dean Cannon, the speaker of the Florida House and a former Rick Perry-backer, was also on hand at the event, but both left before Santorum spoke.

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