On The Road

January 2nd, 2012
 

Santorum Surge Shows Up in Sioux City

There is nothing more embarrassing for a presidential candidate than to show up for a campaign event and there is no one there. Rick Santorum faced such a scenario just a few months ago. Santorum visited Red Oak, Iowa and the only person in attendance was the Montgomery County GOP chairman.

Most candidates would be too embarrassed to admit to this type of incident. Rick Santorum not only relayed it to a packed coffeehouse in Sioux City, he told it to a live, worldwide audience on CNN. Now that Santorum is finally seeing a surge in his poll numbers and crowd sizes, he can look back and tell jokes about the barely attended tour stop.

“Even that turned out to be a good event because we met with the county chair and went and visited the courthouse and met everybody there and then visited the jail and met some folks who can’t vote for me,” Santorum recalled as the crowd laughed. “But we made lemonade out of lemons.”

That cliché accurately describes Rick Santorum’s entire campaign. No candidate worked harder in Iowa. The campaign stop at the Daily Grind coffee shop in Sioux City was Santorum’s town hall meeting #372 in the state this year.

For all his hard work, Santorum never rose above single digits in the polls until last week. Every other candidate in the field surged to the top at one point or another. Finally, the former Pennsylvania senator is getting his turn. And the lemonade tastes sweet.

“From the very beginning, I said I would trust the people of Iowa,” Santorum told the crowd of over 150. Some of the Iowans who put their trust in Santorum became emotional during Sunday’s event. Local radio host Sam Clovis was among a group of prominent Santorum endorsers who spoke to the crowd.

“I was with the Senator all day yesterday and it was one of the most wonderful things I’ve done in my life,” Clovis said as he fought back tears. “This matters. This matters.”

Santorum seemed to revel in the attention and newfound enthusiasm behind his candidacy. The Sioux City crowd was not only larger than what he is used to. They were louder. Instead of trying to win them over, Rick Santorum has moved into a phase where he is trying to inspire people to recruit their friends to caucus for him.

“Do what you think is right,” Santorum urged. “Don’t defer. Do what you think is right for this country. You will send a loud and clear message to the world of what the heartland of America is looking for.”

However, the audience would not let Santorum go without a final piece of vetting. One attendee asked him about his controversial endorsement of Arlen Specter over the more conservative Pat Toomey in 2004. Santorum explained that he chose lifetime judicial appointments over a senate candidate who was likely to lose in the general election.

“Two words. Roberts and Alito,” Santorum answered. “I can tell you without a doubt. If it wasn’t for Arlen Specter, Sam Alito wouldn’t be on the court today.”

Santorum’s closing argument in Sioux City seemed to work. Bill Bradbury walked into the coffee shop undecided about whom to vote for on Tuesday. He walked out supporting Rick Santorum. “I think he’s trustworthy,” Bradbury said. “He’ll do what he says he’s going to do.”

Beth Goetschius settled on Santorum about a month ago. “I agree with everything he had to say. He’s a true conservative,” Goetschius said. “He’s not just saying what people want to hear.”

However, the former Pennsylvania senator did throw in a few lines that the crowd definitely wanted to hear. He half-jokingly made a reference to returning to the Hawkeye State as the GOP nominee.

“We’re gonna miss being here. I’m leaving Iowa and I’m not gonna be back until the fall,” he said to laughter and applause. “You’ll have given me something, which is an affirmation for the heartland that if you trust good people and give them your best and lay out your vision for the country, that they’re not going to pay attention the polls. They’re gonna pay attention to their hearts and their heads.”

The latest polls show Rick Santorum rocketing to the top tier. The exhausting 99-county tour, 374 stops and 18 hour days are finally paying off. Rick Santorum has given Iowa his all. He hopes their hearts and heads are with him on Tuesday night.

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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