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Santorum Surges In Iowa

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Could Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum really win the Republican Iowa caucuses next Tuesday night?

“It’s moved pretty quickly and pretty dramatically,” admits Santorum.

The man who owns a house in Penn Hills is surging in Iowa, nipping at the political heals of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

“Iowans are doing their homework. Iowans are preparing to make a decision,” says Santorum.

“The more voters know about Rick Santorum in Iowa, the more they like him,” notes Keith Schmidt, Santorum’s statewide director back in his senatorial days.

Schmidt is not surprised.

“There is only one candidate in the last five polls that have rose in every poll and it’s Rick Santorum. There’s even been movement down for Romney.”

The latest CNN/Time poll has Mitt Romney at 25 percent, Ron Paul at 22 percent, and Rick Santorum at 16 percent — moving ahead of Newt Gingrich at 14 percent, Rick Perry at 11 percent, and Michele Bachmann at 9 percent.

Santorum’s conservative theme — “Join the Fight” — is reminiscent of his campaigns in Pennsylvania which ultimately failed against now Senator Bob Casey in 2006.

“We hope that what was not in fashion in 2006 is in high fashion in 2012,” says Schmidt.

And he adds that Republicans are looking for the true conservative against Romney.

“You have Rick Perry, you have Ron Paul, you have Michele Bachmann, and you have Rick Santorum. I would argue that the only one who has a chance at getting that nomination of those four is the former senator from Pennsylvania.”

Being the last conservative standing against Romney is key to the Santorum strategy that really began on a warm sunny day in Somerset last June when Santorum announced for president with a strong attack on Barack Obama.

“He’s not just devalued our currency, he’s devalued our culture — through our marriage, through not standing up for the defense of marriage act, for federal funding of abortions,” Santorum told supporters that day.

It’s that socially conservative message that Santorum has taken to all 99 counties in Iowa, campaigning there more than any other presidential candidate.
And it may be paying off, according to the latest polls.

“It shows that we’ve made progress,” says Santorum. “The people of Iowa are getting down to making the tough decision as to whom they’re going to support.”

Santorum seems to be benefiting from a collapse in the Newt Gingrich’s campaign and his own tenacity, says Schmidt, his former aide.

“He’s the little engine that could. He’s steady as you go. His message has been consistent. He has been traveling far and wide for the better part of eight months now. That type of attention to the people of Iowa has paid residuals,” says Schmidt.

And catching fire in Iowa, says Santorum, can open doors across the nation.

“It’s moved pretty quickly and pretty dramatically, and we think that can happen in New Hampshire, too, and South Carolina and going forward,” predicts Pennsylvania’s former senator.

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