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The Gazette KCRG
Posted October 16, 2011
Santorum stands with Iowa in GOP scheduling fight

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum waits to speak to local Republicans during the Black Hawk County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

 

DES MOINES – Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum cancelled campaign events in Nevada and instead traveled to Iowa to show solidarity with Republicans trying to hold their first-in-the-nation position in the 2012 nominating process and keep from being forced to caucus on their presidential picks until Jan. 3 at the earliest.

Santorum said current Republican National Committee rules that place Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada at the front of the 2012 line with Iowa slated to caucus in February protects the integrity of the nominating process and helps candidates who lack money or name identification get vetted on an even-playing field by taking their ideas directly to voters for their consideration.

Santorum pointed to media accounts that suggest front-running Republican rivals are trying to game the process in hopes of squeezing Iowa so early – possibly into November or December – in hopes of “minimizing” the importance of a top Iowa finish and make it a “non-factor” in the 2012 GOP nominating process.

“I think that’s what this is all about,” he told about 50 Iowans who gathered for an afternoon meet-and-greet at the Smokey Row coffeehouse.

“This is a watershed election for this country and to push the nominating process for president in this watershed election into the middle of the Christmas season is unconscionable,” he said.

Santorum said he and four other candidates have agreed to boycott Nevada although he plans to participate in a CNN-televised western Republican debate this week in Las Vegas – an event that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has said he plans to skip in deference to New Hampshire – which also is locked in a scheduling battle with Nevada.

Santorum touted his foreign policy experience, his conservative credentials on social issues in protecting traditional marriage and life, and his record as a strong, consistent conservative who has defeated Democrats in elections and worked with them on bipartisan solutions without compromising his core beliefs. He also took aim at President Obama’s health-care record and his handling of the nation’s economic crisis.

“I don’t see anything in the president’s jobs plan that will turn do anything to turn this economy around,” he told the Smokey Row gathering. “It’s misguided; it’s short term; it doesn’t work. We need long-term structural changes to the economy that people can rely upon and plan for the future, not short-term stimuluses that will not change behavior in people that is necessary to get the economy going.”

Santorum urged attendees to sign up to serve as precinct captains to help engineer a grassroots campaign he will need to do well in the upcoming Iowa caucuses.

“You put us on the map on caucus day — we’ll take it from there,” he said.

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