Tags: santorum | back | campaign | trail

Santorum Back on the Campaign Trail

Monday, 09 Apr 2012 08:43 PM

 

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Defying personal and professional pressures, Rick Santorum is returning to the U.S. presidential campaign trail in his uphill battle against presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

After a five-day break to celebrate Easter, help care for his sick daughter and thrash out strategy, Santorum kicks off the fight for his home state, Pennsylvania, in earnest on Tuesday.

He needs to win the state by a decent margin to stay in the race against Romney, whose allies have already begun negative TV attacks against the conservative former senator.

Santorum holds a rally in Bedford on Tuesday and then addresses his alma mater Penn State Dickinson School of Law, dampening talk he is near to quitting the race.

"Clearly, once we get campaigning, then that will certainly quiet any talk of us doing anything other than moving full-speed ahead," campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said.

Speculation that Santorum could be headed for the exit increased last Thursday when he held a strategy meeting with conservative leaders.

Then his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, who suffers from a serious genetic disorder, was hospitalized on the weekend. She was likely to be released on Monday.

A loss in Pennsylvania in the April 24 primary would be seen as hammering the final nail into the coffin of Santorum's campaign and unofficially crown Romney as the Republican who will face President Barack Obama in November's election.

While Romney's campaign suspended advertising on Monday out of deference to Santorum's ill daughter, the front-runner's Super PAC, Restore Our Future, made no such gesture, staying on the air with $480,000 in time already bought.

Neither Santorum nor the Super PAC that supports him has started spending money on advertising in Pennsylvania, but spokeswoman Stewart insisted the campaign had the money to spend time on the air.

 

SANTORUM SPENDING

"We have a plan in place. When the time is right for us, we'll go up," Stewart said. "Like every other state, there's no way we can compete with the financial advantage the Romney campaign has."

As well as enjoying a clear lead in fundraising, Romney is well ahead in the race to reach the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination at the Republican convention in August.

"It's kinda hard for anyone to get the delegates to pass me at this stage, so it looks pretty good," Romney said on Mike Huckabee's radio show.

Romney also led in one poll in Pennsylvania last week, but that has not been enough to convince Santorum to leave the race.

"There's no good reason to get out" unless the polls continue to slide in Romney's direction, said Republican strategist Rich Galen.

Santorum is considered to have his eye on another presidential run in 2016 and may not want to upset the party by staying in too long this time around and hindering Romney's ability to campaign against Obama.

But 2016 is a long way off and the presidential field could be packed with rising Republican stars like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and South Dakota Senator John Thune crowding out Santorum.

"There's a ton of people" who will line up to run in 2016 if Obama holds on to the White House this time around, and Santorum is by no means at the top of that list, Galen said.

"The notion of Rick Santorum being the early front-runner in 2016 from (April) 2012 is a non-starter," Galen said. "There is a lot of talent in the Republican Party that he's going to have to climb over."

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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