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December 7th, 2011
 

Santorum’s Massive Effort Not Paying Off in the Polls

250 town halls. 99 counties. Six percent. One of these things is not like the others. No presidential candidate has made a stronger commitment to the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus than Rick Santorum. So far, Iowans are not rewarding the former Pennsylvania senator’s hard work. Santorum remains near the bottom of the polls, but remains upbeat about his chances.

“We hear this all the time. ‘You’re on our list.’ And that’s a good place to be right now,” he told a crowd of 25 in Spencer on Tuesday. Santorum noted that this was his fourth trip to the northwest Iowa town. That is four more than most of the GOP field. Ron Paul and Rick Perry are the only other candidates to visit Clay County.

“We’re running a grassroots campaign for president. You’ll have folks who come to you and say, ‘I need your help’. They’re lying,” Santorum joked. “I need your help. They’re running a campaign from 30,000 feet. I’m here, on the ground, face-to-face.”

He might be back in the area, too. Santorum told the crowd that he plans to spend 25 of the next 28 days campaigning in Iowa, right up through caucus night on January 3. “We won’t bother you Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” he said.

Santorum believes the endless campaigning in Iowa will eventually payoff. “We’re going to get our bump. Not from the media. Not from some contrivance of the media of who they’re going focus their attention on.”

The Spencer visit was the final stop on a three-day swing through conservative western Iowa. Santorum drew large crowds in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Sioux Center, signifying that interest remains in his campaign, despite the low poll numbers.

“I think he is probably the most sincere of the candidates,” said attendee Lois Clark. “I think that he firmly believes what he’s telling us. I think that the things he believes in reflect my beliefs and I think that our country is so far off a good moral track that we have to work on that.”

Clark’s view reflected the opinion of several of the attendees in Spencer. Most of those TheIowaRepublican.com spoke with were already leaning toward supporting Santorum. This event seemed geared more toward shoring up that support than winning over undecided voters.

“I’ve always been impressed with him,” said Peggy Folan of Spirit Lake. “I remember when he was in Congress. I’d see his name in the paper and read something that he said and think ‘That was good’. I think that his family values positions are very strong and admirable.”

Rick Santorum is often pigeonholed as a candidate who focuses solely on social issues. That view is not entirely accurate, but the former Pennsylvania senator also makes it clear that we will continue to fight against abortion and gay marriage.

“A truce now is surrender,” Santorum said. “I won’t surrender. We can’t have a truce. You only have a truce when you’re in a position where it’s advantageous to have a truce. I can understand why the left wants to have a truce. They’re winning.”

That message resonates with a lot of Iowa caucus goers. The main thing preventing Rick Santorum from gaining mass support is, many voters do not believe he is a viable candidate. They like his stances, but are doubtful he can win. Santorum’s inability to raise his poll numbers reflects that view.

“I haven’t paid too much attention to Mr. Santorum,” said local Tea Party member Mike Studer. “He’s got a good grasp of conservative values. His speech is well polished. I lean real heavily toward Ron Paul, but the situation being as it is, I might have to look elsewhere. He’s definitely an alternate in my opinion.”

Rick Santorum needs a game changer. Although the GOP field remains very volatile, Santorum’s chances of emerging from the pack are dwindling. A major endorsement or a pair of dominant debate performances seem like his only remaining chances. Santorum has put in the grassroots work. Now his campaign must find a way to consolidate that massive effort into a winning formula. Time is running out.

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com


About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.




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