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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 2, 2011
Santorum says media ignoring him, so he’s hoping Iowa caucus-goers write his story

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum talks with supporters in the Java Lounge on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, in Williamsburg, Iowa. Sen. Santorum visited the Iowa County business as part of his tour of all 99 counties in the state. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

 

WILLIAMSBURG — Rick Santorum is the perfect Iowa precinct caucus story.

If he could just get someone to tell it.

“We’re underdog. The candidate that’s going to come up in the last few weeks,” the former Pennsylvania senator said Nov. 2 in Williamsburg.

Santorum said he’s getting shortchanged in media coverage. So he’s employing a campaign strategy of talking to Republicans in small towns and rural Iowa, people who, he said, will write the Santorum story on caucus night Jan. 3.

“You have the responsibility of making the toughest cut,” Santorum told about 35 people at the Java Lounge on the Williamsburg town square. “You get the chance to look them in the eye, to ask questions and get the measure of the person.”

His approach has not — so far — helped his poll numbers of his fundraising.

“But if you talk to activists, they all are saying the same thing: Watch out for this guy. He’s building the base,” Santorum said.

His poll numbers are still in the low single digits, but Santorum believes when Iowa Republicans “go from the dating phase to the marrying phase, we’re going to do a lot better.”

So Santorum has been doing a lot of dating.

He started Wednesday in Sigourney and checked off “County 95” with his visit to Williamsburg. He planned to make appearances in Fairfield, Keosauqua and Ottumwa before wrapping up his 99-county tour in Maquoketa in Jackson County before the day was over.

Visiting all 99 counties is more than a gimmick for Santorum. The inspiration for his journey to all 99 Iowa counties came from Sen. Chuck Grassley, who visits every county every year.

“You can learn a lot from going to rural areas,” Santorum said. Although Iowa County’s population has grown by about 700 over the past 10 years, he had been told in Sigourney that Keokuk County’s population dropped by about 1,000 people between the 2000 and 2010 census. “A lot of these towns are dying, they’re shrinking.”

His strategy of talking to people in areas overlooked by other candidates might be working. In Iowa County, where GOP Chairwoman Alice DeRycke of rural Belle Plaine says no other 2012 candidate has campaigned, she thinks if the caucuses were tonight the race would be between Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s strong conservative positions and his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage appeal to many likely caucusgoers, DeRycke said.

Rick David of North Liberty likes those conservative principles, but he’s looking for a conservative who can win. And he’s not convinced that’s Santorum.

“Not yet,” he said after listening to Santorum answer questions. “I’m not convinced any of them can.”

Santorum has faith he can convince David and other still undecided caucusgoers.

“Unlike the other candidates, when people start to pay attention, we’ve got the troops out here in the fields to capitalize on that, to show up at the caucuses, to speak for us, to get people there and we’ll be able to identify our voters and make the difference,” he said.

One Response to Santorum says media ignoring him, so he’s hoping Iowa caucus-goers write his story

  1. There’s a reason people are ignoring you Rick…take the hint.

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