Rick Santorum Tries to Bowl Over Wisconsin

Mar 28, 2012 7:41pm

LA CROSSE, Wis. – As he tries to connect with voters in Wisconsin, Rick Santorum latched on to his talent in the sport of bowling to prove that he’s a candidate voters can relate to.

From Sheboygan to Fond du Lac and over to La Crosse, Santorum has squeezed in some time on the bowling lanes in between campaign stops - three times in the past five days – acknowledging that he’s enjoyed unconventional forms of campaigning dating back to his time in the early caucus state of Iowa.

“Well, I always try to make campaigning fun and do things that are, you know, along the way, and get a chance to meet people in sort of normal settings instead of in rallies or structured events,” Santorum said as he took questions from reporters while bowling with college Republicans in La Crosse, Wis.

While he does not outwardly say it, Santorum’s bowling jaunts may be an attempt to paint a contrast with Mitt Romney. But when asked if highlighting the contrast is intentional, Santorum responded, “That’s him not me. I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ve been doing stuff like this for a long time.”

Santorum, who has repeatedly asked reporters if their outlets have posted video of his bowling outings online, began his bowling stint with a turkey – three strikes in a row - in Sheboygan, Wis., but four days later as he bowled with College Republicans in La Crosse, Wis., Santorum lost the hot streak, scoring only 88 points in seven frames, a low game for the former Pennsylvania senator.

Aside from showing off his bowling skills, Santorum has taken to incorporating bowling terminology into his speeches.

“You have spoken loudly with Gov. Walker,” Santorum said in a speech in Sparta, Wis., this morning. “You have spoken loudly with another Wisconsinite, Paul Ryan, and his boldness. And now it’s time for Wisconsin to do what I did the other day in Sheboygan. Not just bowl one strike, not just bowl two strikes, but to bowl three strikes in a row and knock Obama out of the game by electing Rick Santorum.”

Santorum, who has spent the past five days in Wisconsin and plans to return to at the end of the week, believes the time he’s put into campaigning in the state will help boost him in Tuesday’s primary.

“We’re certainly working hard that it’s gonna pay off,” he said. “It’s paid off in the past and just get out there and talk to the voters and relate the message. And as we’ve seen in the other states where we had an opportunity of a run-up, we’ve done well. I think we’ll do well here. The question is: How well?”

Santorum trails Romney in the state by eight points, according to a recent Marquette University poll, and he blames the Romney campaign’s negative tactics for pushing him lower in the polls.

“I haven’t spent tens of millions of dollars,” Santorum said as he watched a student bowl. “I haven’t spent tens of millions of dollars tearing down the candidates state by state by state. We’ve been running a positive campaign and we’ll continue to run a positive campaign. We draw a contrast between the candidates on the important issues of the day… and we’ll continue to do that.”

Looking past Wisconsin, Santorum faces a difficult battle in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he sees his lead ahead of Romney slipping in the polls. Santorum refused to say if Pennsylvania is a must-win state for him, but insisted he would be victorious in the state.

“We have every intention of winning Pennsylvania,” Santorum said.

But when it comes to Wisconsin, Santorum had some innovative ideas for how to determine the winner of next week’s primary.

“I think we should maybe decide Wisconsin in a [bowling] match,” he said. “What do you think? Just come here, we’ll say we’ll put it all on the line.”

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