News Center

November 19th, 2011
 

Santorum Still Seeking Surge of Momentum

It was the type of mistake every campaign dreads. However, the Knoxville crowd was very forgiving when Rick Santorum mistakenly called the town “Ottumwa” late into his hour-long town hall meeting. “I knew I’d do it once,” the embarrassed presidential candidate admitted as the crowd chuckled. He did correctly identify the town at the beginning of his speech.

Knoxville was the final stop of the day for the tireless campaigner. Santorum hit the trail bright and early Friday morning, speaking to a crowd in Burlington at 7:30. He conducted a total of seven campaign events. Ottumwa and Knoxville were the final two stops on the docket.

The presidential hopeful completed his tour of all 99 counties a couple of weeks ago. Santorum was not content to stop there. Friday marked the former Pennsylvania senator’s fifth visit to Marion County, but his first to Knoxville.

“I admire all the hard work he’s put into this and his commitment to Iowa,” said attendee Greg Heartsill. He was part of a crowd of 40 likely caucus goers packed into the backroom at the local Godfather’s Pizza to listen to Santorum and ask questions.

Although he unveiled a 31-point economic plan earlier in the day, Santorum wanted to focus on foreign policy in Knoxville. He spent the first 15 minutes of the event talking about the looming threat of Iran building a nuclear weapon.

“The biggest issue come election day might not be the economy,” Santorum said. “Something’s going to happen between now and election day to change the dynamic of the Middle East and the world.”

During the question and answer session, Santorum was grilled on topics like illegal immigration, minimum wage, and healthcare. Kevin Kincaid, the CEO of the Knoxville Hospital and Clinics, is concerned about maintaining high quality, but cost effective healthcare in Iowa. He appreciated Santorum’s answer.

“I think he’s saying a lot of the stuff that we’ve been thinking about as far as driving out some of the complexity in the healthcare system,” Kincaid told TheIowaRepublican. “Those of us in the healthcare system are needing some certainty.” Kincaid said he was leaning toward supporting Santorum prior to Friday’s event and this appearance helped solidify that vote.

Eventually, the former Pennsylvania senator was asked about his stance on taxes. That allowed him to showcase his new plan, which Santorum admits is not as flashy as others proposed by GOP candidates. The plan reduces the number of income tax rates to just two, 10% and 28%.

“It’s the Reagan rate that got bipartisan support in 1986 and got passed and signed into law,” Santorum said. “Instead of trying to do something that sounds good, you know, a postcard, I decided to do something that works and will pass.”

Santorum reminded the crowd that he was the only candidate to campaign in Iowa against the Supreme Court justices last fall. He also spent several minutes explaining how the judiciary is the weakest of the three branches of the federal government. The message resonated with the attendees TheIowaRepublican talked to.

“Very inspiring,” said Jim Richards. “I think he’s an honest candidate and he’s capable. I didn’t hear anything I didn’t like. I don’t know why you wouldn’t lean towards him after hearing what he said.”

“He’s on my short list,” said Greg Heartstill, who is running for the state house next year. “I like Senator Santorum. I’ve been an admirer of his since the Barbara Boxer debate.”

Rick Santorum rarely draws large crowds at his events. He rarely receives wild cheers. He sits near the bottom of most polls. However, The former senator believes his slow, methodical, grassroots approach will pay off at the right time.

“We still have six and a half weeks,” Santorum said. “That’s an eternity in politics. My goodness six and a half weeks ago no one was talking about Newt Gingrich. Six and a half weeks before that no one was taking about Herman Cain. Six and a half weeks before that Rick Perry wasn’t even running.

Almost every other candidate in the race has received a surge of momentum, only to fall back into the pack. Santorum is still waiting for his surge. The ideal peak time would come right on January 3.

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.




blog comments powered by Disqus