Saying that America needs someone who “understands what liberty is all about,” Rick Santorum vowed Tuesday night to press on with his quest for the GOP presidential nomination despite losses to Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
“We have now reached the point where it’s halftime. Half the delegates in this process have been selected, and who’s ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half?” Santorum said, rallying supporters in his home state with three weeks to go before Pennsylvania voters get their chance at the polls.
Santorum declared that the race is far from over with only half of the delegates decided as of Tuesday night.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Pennsylvania and half the other people in this country have yet to be heard — and we’re going to go out and campaign here — and across this nation to make sure that their voices are heard in the next few months,” Santorum declared.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also vowed to fight on.
“To defeat President Obama and change Washington, our party must commit itself to a bold, conservative platform,” said Gingrich. “We cannot win on an Etch A Sketch platform that shows no principle or backbone. The Washington establishment wants to declare this race over, but I am committed to carrying the banner of bold conservative colors all the way to Tampa to ensure the Republican Party never abandons the timeless conservative principles of Ronald Reagan and the Contract with America.”
With a win in Pennsylvania’s primary on April 24, Santorum, who represented the state for 12 years in the Senate, said that the complexion of the presidential race would change. “We’ve got three weeks to go out here in Pennsylvania and win this state — and after winning this state, the field looks a little different in May,” said Santorum, who has won 11 contests.
He dismissed arguments that the party needs a moderate to defeat President Barack Obama. “Ladies and gentlemen if we’re going to win this race, we can’t have little differences between our nominee and President Obama,” he said. “We have to have clear contrasting colors.”
Santorum said that Republicans have only managed to defeat an incumbent Democratic president one time over the last 120 years. “Time and time again the Republican establishment and aristocracy have shoved down the throats of the Republican Party and people across this country moderate Republicans because — of course — we have to win by getting people in the middle,” he explained, challenging people not to make the same mistake by choosing Romney. “There’s one person who understood we don’t win by moving to the middle. We win by getting people in the middle to move to us and move this country forward.”
He pointed to Ronald Reagan’s presidential bid in 1976 in which the former California governor was urged to leave the race. “In 1976 Ronald Reagan didn’t get out of the race. He was able to stand tall in May — win the state of Texas, which we have every intention of doing. He took that race the entire way to the convention and he fell short,” Santorum recalled. “And in the fall, Republicans fell short because we nominated another moderate who couldn’t galvanize our party and bring those votes to our side to get the kind of change that we need in America.”
Having been outspent in every primary and caucus by Romney and his super PACs, Santorum warned fellow Pennsylvanians to brace for an onslaught of negative advertising. “You know me,” he said, reminding Pennsylvanians that he was the child of immigrant parents and had a grandfather who worked in the mines. “They’ll say all the things — that I’m someone who doesn’t stand up for what I believe in. You know me. And so I ask you over the next three weeks, this isn’t halftime — no marching bands. We’re hitting the field. The clock starts tonight.”
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