Santorum's South Carolina closer
January 20th, 2012
05:27 PM ET
11 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. diridi

    To bomb Iran, and send your sons and daughters to WAR, this is another CLOWN. Idiots. Pathetic of America. Obama2012. period.

    January 20, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Saint daddy should have spent more time kissing up to the VA governor. He wants to bring back the confederacy and has a pretty good head start in va. He and that cucinelli or however you spell his name.
    BTW – santy – – – "one of THOSE GPS things"? Do you even know what it is?????

    January 20, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Santorum weak spots are foreign policy and economics. He hasn't really presented a coherent tax plan, but given his endorsement of the Ryan Plan, he would also enact tax cuts that would add half a trillion dollars of new debt every year.

    January 20, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. Leonard

    Rick Santorum did indeed win last nights debate -he`s sincere,honestly challenged both Romney and Gingrich head on
    his true values towards the dignity towards life, and will indeed to be a great leader for his country. Romney and Gingrich continioue to criticise Obama driving away from the table of issues.
    Leonard from Canada

    January 20, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    He belongs in the pulpit, not the WH.

    January 20, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. Whatever

    I don't want to see a country where women are forced to stay home, where birth control is not available OR that a woman's egg has the same rights as her – – NO SHARIA LAW ALLOWED SANTORIUM!!!!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. shoegazer

    Well, at least he's got two tires that match his head.

    January 20, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. OrangeW3dge

    Thick as a brick, and wet behind the ears....
    A follower is not a leader

    January 20, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. Aaron

    Yeah back Obama I want gas to be $6 dollaras a gallon in three years. I want unemployment to be 17% , oh hell its currently 15% it will probably be more like Greece at 25%. I want the dollar to be worth 36 cents. And yeah while the idiot is signing reminding me of playing a fiddle while Rome burns our debt to GNP ratio is over 100%. But yeah vote Obama and get all those green jobs...wait that didn't happen either but hey Solyndra did get a half a billion tax dollars before declaring bankruptcy and he has managed to kill the Keystone pipeline. But hell yeah he's "laser focused" on jobs.No one has mentioned race no one from the republican party anyway that has come from the democrats and the liberal left media. Pray that Obama goes the way of Jimmy Carter and just fades away and all of his programs reversed maybe the US can be repaired.

    January 20, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Chipster

    Santorum is a religious zealot who wants to ban contraception and dictate women's medical, professional and personal choices. If he wanted to join the Taliban to control women, he should have moved to Afghanistan years ago. The problem is he would prefer to live in a huge estate paid for with a medical malpractice award. This is the hypocrite who tried to limit malpractice lawsuits when people are harmed or killed by negligent health care workers. He also has a lot in common with Michelle Bachmann. They both raise alarms about government programs and call them "socialism" while applying for huge grants from PA for cyber school for their children who live VA (Santorum), state funding for foster children (Bachmann), receiving farm subsidies (Bachmann) and for employee training for her husband's mental health clinic (Bachmann). Oh, that's right – I forgot that government handouts don't count as socialism when given to wealthy people who don't really need it.

    January 20, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. Slightly Left of Center

    ...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,"...

    LOL. They say nothing protects you from mayhem like allstate insurance!!! Although, some common sense sure goes a long way!!! What an idiot!!

    January 20, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Chris Stanton

    What they don't want the American Public to realize is that the escalator isn't broken, it's just turned into stairs... Those to afraid or lazy to climb them aren't worthy of getting to the top. ~FIN~

    So what would you say if I offered you a job where you get to vote on your own annual raise amount, pension, healthcare plan, and oh yeah you get to spend other people's hard earned money. If you want the job, just go work in Washington, DC & if you don't want to travel that far just run for office in your local town or city #theyAREeallCORRUPT

    January 20, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. mirrorlogic

    Santorum foundations are intrinsically tied to religion...the question is do we as a nation truly want to move closer to a Theocracy. Those historically haven't ended well?

    January 20, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. mirrorlogic

    The U.S. has a history of separating Church and State, yet mixing Church and Politics. Santorum however is so committed to his religious principles the concern becomes will he confuse the latter (Politics and religion) with the former (State and religion). Most Americans understand the importance...and difference between the two forums. They don't mind the political side, but rightfully fear a Theocracy.

    January 20, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  15. carlossuave

    Keep pandering saturum you will get somewhere someday.

    January 20, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    No one listens to "one of those GPS things". They WATCH THE ROAD.

    Was she also texting or putting on makeup? Not the brightest light on the tree (if you want my opinion – fell close to the tree).

    January 20, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    Ohhhh – i can't resist.

    3 a.m. Hey – someone else get that red phone, I gotta go change a flat. See you in an hour or so.

    NO Thanks.

    January 20, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  18. mirrorlogic

    Santorum lost his re-election bid in 2006 by 700K votes === at the time the largest margin of an incumbant Senator since 1980's...Hmmm, I question if the folks who knew him best perhaps are telling us something?

    January 20, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. ED FL

    This Santorum is something else .Here is a guy that LOST his Senate seat in his state and now thinks he has a shot at being a presidential candidate. If he cannot get a majority of his state how does he think he has a chance in the primary for a Country Wide election. In addition his religion is not one that Americans tend to want in an election.Do not know what is in the water he drinks but it is pretty good if you believe in fantasies.

    January 20, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  20. jean

    Perhaps church mission work would be a better fit for Santorum if he is sincere in his desire to bring the country to God.

    January 20, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  21. Larry L

    This is yet another Republican chicken-hawk who would send your kids to war – something he would never do himself. He full of principles and patriotism – except not so full of it that he served himself. As a veteran I don't necessarily expect our leaders to have served in the military – except for those like Romney and Santorum who openly promote the concept of war.

    Republicans must break the tradition of starting wars without a clue of how to bring about an honorable and expiedent conclusion. It may be good business for their corporate masters, but the children of the working class die while you count your money.

    January 20, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  22. Art Vandolay

    The voters in SC should all google "Santorum"-then see if they still vote for him. Bible beltin moronns -Art

    January 20, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  23. Ana

    I don't know was more amusing: the fact that Callista, Newt's wife is the same age than Newt's daughter; or the fact that both claim to be Catholics yet were having a 6 year affair while Newt was married, or the fact that evangelicals still believe in his "family values" message. Really??? Can evangelicals be that stupid?

    January 20, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  24. steve harnack

    It's a metaphor for all of the Republikans. A voice says turn here so they turn be it over a curb or over a cliff, no thought involved. Like when the Republikan voice says President Obama is a socialist or Democrats are tax and spend, or ANY of the countless Republikan bumper sticker credos.

    January 21, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  25. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    let's not forget that if your kids want to go to college according to Rick they'll be snobs and uppity. Or maybe he only meant children of the "blah" people whoever the heck they are.

    January 21, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
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