Rick Santorum Says ‘We Are In This Thing,’ Adviser Says the Campaign Will Stay Lean and Mean

Mar 7, 2012 12:12am

gty rick santorum waves nt 120306 wblog Rick Santorum Says We Are In This Thing, Adviser Says the Campaign Will Stay Lean and Mean

ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe and Russell Goldman Report:

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio-Although the race was still too close to call in this state, GOP contender Rick Santorum came out to a boisterous crowd gathered in the gym of Steubenville High School, telling them, “We are in this thing!”

“It is clear. We have run races all over this country, against the odds. When they thought ok he is finally finished, we keep coming back,” Santorum said to cheers.

“This was a big night tonight,” Santorum said. “We are going to lose a few, and win a few. But as it looks right now, we are going to get at least a few gold medals and a whole lot of silver medals,” using the Olympics language usually used by Mitt Romney.

“We can add to Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and now Tennessee. We have won in the West, Midwest, South and we’re ready to win across this country,” Santorum said.

Even without Ohio reporting, it was clearly a good night for Santorum who not only won at least three states, but will continue his underdog battle for the nomination in this continually surprising primary. He waited at the high school watching returns from a weight room.

Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s national communications director, called a head-to-head match up with Santorum Romney’s “worst nightmare.” He added that no matter how much money Santorum raises the campaign will stay “lean and mean.”

“That’s the way he likes it,” Gidley said, referring to Santorum. “We will continue to staff up…but we will never be the beaureaucratic behemoth the Romney campaign is.”

Flanked by his wife, children, and his 93-year-old mother, Santorum stopped at least once during his speech and seemed overwhelmed by the cheering crowd.

Alaska was not called yet. But, Mitt Romney won Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, Idaho and Newt Gingrich won Georgia.

Longtime Santorum senior strategist John Brabender told ABC News that he wouldn’t call on Gingrich to get out of the race, but urged “conservatives to unite behind Rick Santorum” and make the race a “conservative versus a moderate.”

“To me this is a little bit like the Superbowl and I’m sure Mitt Romney’s New England Patriots wanted to declare themselves the winner,” Brabender said. “But, they played the whole game and they didn’t win and I think this race will be very similar.”

Brabender also predicted Ohio would be a “photo finish.”

Santorum called his mother and his in laws, also on the stage with him, were the “greatest generation.”

“They preserved liberty by sacrificing tremendously to keep this country free. It’s a different battle today, but not less than the battle of what this country was founded on,” Santorum said.

He again framed the battle as David vs. Goliath and touted his working class roots while trying to make his opponent seem out of touch.

“We need a fighter and someone who learned what America was about by growing up in communities like this,” Santorum said. “Understanding how America, neighborhoods, and families work and believing in them. Understanding they are under a lot of stress and strain right now, mostly put on them by the government. But understanding that that is the greatness of this country.”

And the campaign does continue: Santorum will campaign in Kansas and Mississippi Wednesday ahead of their contests on March 10 and March 13. Brabender said the campaign will go back on the air running television ads this week.

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