Struggling Santorum vows to make a stand in Wisconsin

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2012 7:03 PM
Struggling Santorum vows to make a stand in Wisconsin

By Sam Youngman

BEAVER DAM, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Under pressure to pull off a big primary victory, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum vowed on Tuesday to make a stand in Wisconsin next week despite a poor record in large Midwestern states.

Santorum is trailing front-runner Mitt Romney in delegates for the Republican nomination and doubts have begun to surface about the social conservative's ability to win populous states that do not have large evangelical voter bases.

Battered by negative ads put out by Romney's well-financed backers, Santorum lost Ohio, Illinois and Michigan in recent weeks.

He will now try to rally in Wisconsin and silence the voices of senior Republicans who are asking him to step aside and allow Romney to gear up for the November election against Democratic President Barack Obama.

"We think this is a place to plant our flag and do well here," Santorum said at a campaign stop in Beaver Dam.

"We've got one week - one week - to put this race and turn it right back about around to where a conservative can get elected and nominated for our country," he said.

The former Pennsylvania senator told reporters outside the Elk's Lodge here that aside from one trip he will make to California, he plans to be in Wisconsin every day until the state votes next Tuesday.

With Romney and his Super PAC allies massively outspending Santorum here - perhaps by as much as 9 to 1 - Santorum said he knows what he's up against.

"When you're that badly outspent, it's hard to win," Santorum said.

Still, the former senator, fresh off a win in Louisiana last weekend, said that he has "a shot at winning" in Wisconsin.

WIN BADLY NEEDED

Rich Galen, a Republican strategist, said that Santorum has to "do well enough that people back off and stop saying 'Drop out.'"

"It is the place that he can make a stand," Galen said. "Either that or he has got to follow Newt to the zoos and museums, and I don't think he wants to do that," he said, referring to rival Newt Gingrich who has begun to mix what appear to be personal visits into his campaign trips.

With his frustration apparently building over what he sees as slanted news coverage that favors Romney, Santorum cursed at a New York Times reporter last weekend. Santorum said the journalist had misinterpreted comments he had made about Romney.

And Santorum's campaign raised eyebrows by releasing an online video that forecasts a looming apocalypse in small-town America if Obama is re-elected.

Santorum unleashed a stinging attack on Obama and Romney on Tuesday, telling a small crowd that Obama's overheard remarks to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are comparable to behavior by Romney, in that they are both typical politicians saying one thing and doing another.

Obama was overheard assuring Medvedev at a meeting in Seoul that he would have "more flexibility" to deal with arms-control issues after the November 6 presidential election, drawing sharp criticism back home from his Republican foes.

"I think the American people are tired of politicians who will tell you whatever you want to hear when they're in front of you," Santorum said.

"And then go and do what is politically expedient when the doors are closed or when the camera isn't on you, or at least you don't think it is," Santorum told the crowd. "This what's been going on in this election. We don't need another candidate against Barack Obama who's gonna whisper and say something off-camera then (something different) on-camera."

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech)