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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 13, 2011
Santorum: Don’t have to win to do well in Iowa precinct caucuses

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum answers questions from The Gazette's editorial board Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 in downtown Cedar Rapids. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)

CEDAR RAPIDS — When you’re sixth in a six-way race, it’s the sort of thing that looks like progress.

After following an Elvis impersonator at the Linn County GOP Christmas party Monday night, Rick Santorum started the day Tuesday in front of The Gazette Editorial Board Dec. 13 and then sat down at The Blue Strawberry Coffee Co., for an interview with CNN’s John King.

“We’re working to win here in Iowa,” the former Pennsylvania senator said Dec. 13. “But we don’t have to win here to do well. We have to exceed expectations and right now expectations are last.

That was borne out by a University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll showing Newt Gingrich leading with 30 percent support of likely Republican caucusgoers followed by Mitt Romney, 20 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 11, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 9, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, 8 percent and Santorum at 5 percent.

However, Santorum said he’s not competing with Gingrich and Romney as much as Perry and Bachmann.

“If we finish in front of anybody … I think it will show the strength of our message,” he said.

With neither the poll numbers nor budgets of his rivals, Santorum is counting on winning over Iowa caucusgoers on the strength of his message of leadership on the economy, a tough stand against radical Islamic terrorism and a return to moral principles on which the country was founded, he said.

He’s not cowed by reports that Perry and Romney and their allies have plunked down $6 million for television advertising ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses.

Republican caucusgoers are, for the most part, activists, he said, who “are paying more attention and won’t be swayed by television ads.”

“We saw Mitt Romney four years ago spend an enormous amount of money and it didn’t work for him,” he said. After leading for most to the campaign, Romney finished second to Mike Huckabee in 2008.

All of the candidates will have spent more and received more media attention than him, Santorum said. He points to his fourth place finish in the Iowa GOP Straw Poll four months ago as evidence he can beat expectations.

“The top three (finishers) all spent in excess of $2 million,” said Santorum, who spent less than $100,000. “So that’s why fourth place was a good thing for me and a bad thing for Tim Pawlenty” who dropped out of the race the next day.

CNN's John King interviews Sen. Rick Santorum at The Blue Strawberry Coffee Co. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2012. (James Q. Lynch/SourceMedia Group News)

Santorum’s approach has been to visit all 99 Iowa counties. He’s on another ambitious tour of Iowa communities, hoping Iowans who have the opportunity to meet him and ask him questions will ignore the pundits who have written him off.

He’s watched as others have climbed to the top of the polls only to see their number slip.

“We’re poised to really make a break here in the last couple of weeks as people rethink Newt Gingrich,” he said. “We need someone who is solid, someone who is not going to be the issue, someone we can trust. We think we fit that better than anybody.”

And anything better than a sixth-place finish Jan. 3 “will be a very good sign for us coming out of Iowa and give us the lift we need,” Santorum said.

 

 

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