Santorum's South Carolina closer
January 20th, 2012
05:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Santorum's South Carolina closer

Lexington, South Carolina (CNN) – Rick Santorum's harried final day of campaigning here got off to a bumpy start, thanks to two flat tires on the way to his first stop.

"My daughter was in the following car and she got one of those GPS things that the last minute said 'turn here' So she turned and ran over the curb and we got 2 flat tires," said Santorum as he emerged from his car nearly 40 minutes late.

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When asked by CNN if that could be a metaphor for his campaign, Santorum dismissed it with a laugh, replying "We're doing great. Life is good. We had a great night last night."

The delay didn't dull his sharp attacks, comparing the GOP field to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

"You have one candidate that is a little too radioactive. A little too hot–we want the race not to be about our candidate. We want the race to be about Barack Obama," said Santorum, clearly referring to Newt Gingrich.

"You have another candidate who is too darn cold. Who doesn't have bold plans. Who doesn't have that clear contrast because of inconsistencies and flip flops," he said, clearly referring to Mitt Romney.

"We need someone who is just right. Someone who is a strong conviction conservative," he concluded, obviously talking about himself.

His final appeal to South Carolina voters is heavy on values, family and faith - selling himself as the only TRUE social conservative.

One voter appeared to agree, grabbing the microphone and calling him "a kind of man who will be a Jesus candidate" and then teeing him up about Newt Gingrich's ex-wife's new allegation.

"What is your stance about what was spoken about open marriage?" asked the voter, adding, "Ok Rick, run with it."

"Personal matters are personal matters, but they are matters particularly when you are in public life, as he was at the time, and the people involved were also in a sense in public life, those are issues that people will look at," responded Santorum.

He later launched this not-so-subtle one-two punch at Gingrich and Romney.

"I would say to the people of South Carolina take a step back, get past the glib one-liners, the beating up of the media which is always popular among conservatives, get past the inevitability that the person with the most money wins. He didn't win Iowa!" Santorum said.

When a woman asked if the family is really ready for the kind of scrutiny and spotlight that comes with the presidency, Santorum's wife Karen responded by talking about her deep faith.

"We read sacred scripture. In fact, I have my passages here. I have got my bible in the car and I just have sacred scripture passages that really help sustain us," said Mrs. Santorum.

"I am weak but with God I am strong and with God everything is possible. So I have that confidence going into this knowing that He will give us the grace to fortitude to persevere and do whatever it is He is calling us to do, " she said.

The former senator from Pennsylvania came from behind big time in Iowa to win, by making appearances just like this town hall, but he hasn't had the time or organization to make that connection in South Carolina yet.

He knows first hand how volatile this race is.

"Do not compromise. Lead," Santorum pleaded. "You want to be first in the South? Lead. Do your part. Help us to. Take a bumper sticker. Heck you only have to put it on for 24 hours. It will come right off after 24 hours."

It worked with Barbara King, who came in undecided and left saying she was "sold."

"I was not when I walked in but I am sold now. I am going home and I am going get on the phone, Facebook and tell everybody," said King.

Santorum got what he thought was a big boost last weekend when a group of evangelical leaders gathered in Texas and decided to coalesce around him. The hope was that would help Santorum with South Carolina's heavy born-again population, but polls don't indicate the endorsement moved the dial for Santorum. Instead Gingrich has seen his fortunes rise in South Carolina.

A key question for Santorum is whether he can sustain his campaign if he doesn't come in first or even second here.

When asked by CNN how well he has to do to have a viable path forward, Santorum scoffed.

"I've won one of two primaries. This race is just completely reshaped itself yesterday.... because I won Iowa, Rick Perry dropped out, Jon Huntsman dropped out I mean there are a lot of issues came up at the last minute here that I'm not too sure will be reflected in Saturday's results," said Santorum.

"We feel like we are in a great position to be the conservative alternative and we're going to go out there and make that case," he vowed.

Also see:

Perry drops out, endorses Gingrich

Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court

Gingrich releases 2010 federal tax records

Santorum tries to shoulder past Romney, Gingrich in debate

Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum • South Carolina
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    i pledge aliegance to the flag of the united states of america for wich it stands one nation under god with liberty and justice for ALL! WE THE PEOPLE

    January 21, 2012 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  2. I CARE

    i pledge aliegance to the flag of the united states of america for wich it stands one nation under god indivisable with liberty and justice for ALL! WE THE PEOPLE

    January 21, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  3. 12genamerican

    I may not agree with him but Ifeel he is honest that is mudh more then I can say for Newt

    January 21, 2012 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  4. clarke

    This should not be about the current President, it should be what you will do to improve, make better, create jobs, stop fraud, health care, drugs,. It's not about Obama, it is about you .

    January 21, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  5. jilli

    "We need someone who is just right. Someone who is a strong conviction conservative," and a social neanderthal that holds religious beliefs similar to the taliban.

    There ya' go Ricky, you're perfect.

    January 21, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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