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The Gazette KCRG
Posted June 21, 2011
Santorum nicks Huntsman for skipping 2012 Iowa caucuses

Emma Aquino-Nemecek, Mt. Vernon, speaks with Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., after The Chairman's Series, Tuesday April 26, 2011 at the Clarion Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Becky Malewitz)

DES MOINES – Rick Santorum is not surprised he hasn’t been anointed him “The Guy” in the field of 2012 Republican hopefuls.

However, on his 19th visit to Iowa, the former Pennsylvania senator said the more often he comes back and Iowans have an opportunity see and hear him the more likely he’ll be “That Guy” on caucus night.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be the candidate with the most money or the most name recognition, but I did believe that I am the candidate that best represents the values of the Republican Party,” Santorum said during a stop at the Iowa Capitol June 21. He believe he has the “best chance of competing against President Barack Obama and … and serving this country in a way consistent with where I think the country is moving.”

Rick Santorum

Neither is he surprised by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s entry into the race and the prospects of others, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, joining the field. That’s less of a comment on him and the other candidates than an indication people aren’t convinced the so-called frontrunners are up to the challenge of defeating Obama.

Referring to Huntsman and Perry, he said, “People are saying ‘Hey, this is a chance for me to get elected president of the United States.’”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if more people get in. Whoever wins has a very good chance of being president,” Santorum said before meeting with the Iowa Senate GOP caucus.

However, he was critical of Huntsman and Romney for not competing in Iowa.

“I think it shows the weakness of their candidacies not to appeal to the broad spectrum of Republicans,” Santorum said.

Santorum dismissed Huntsman’s explanation that because he opposes ethanol subsidies he cannot do well in Iowa.

“I’ve never voted for an ethanol subsidy in Congress and I’ve come out in favor of a phase-out (of the subsidy) and I think I can go out and compete for voters here in Iowa just like everyone else,” he said.

Not being able to compete everywhere shows “holes in their records,” he continued.

“I’m comfortable running in every state, in every Republican primary in every state in this country because my record is solid across the board,” Santorum said. “If you don’t have a record that is solid across the board or has been somewhat all over the place, then you have to pick and choose where you can do well. I don’t think that’s going to be our strongest candidate.”

A Huntsman spokesman declined to respond to Santorum’s criticism.

Gov. Terry Branstad

It may seem late for candidates to be joining the field, but Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said, recalled that in 1999 Texas Gov. George W. Bush didn’t campaign in Iowa until after Legislature adjourned.

“I think it was about this time of the year, in June,” Branstad said. “It might be late, but as you know, he won.”

Pressed on whether there is time for Perry to build an organization to compete in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses, Branstad said he’s “probably the last one to ask.”

“I don’t know much about politics,” Branstad said, drawing laughter from reporters at his weekly news conference. “I’ve never run for president.”

 

 

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