.

Santorum Running on a Shoestring in Iowa

The candidate for the Republican nomination for president recently wooed potential voters at an Iowa gun show.

By Lynn Campbell | IowaPolitics.com

In his first visit to Iowa since the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll, former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum appeared upbeat and portrayed himself as the “slow and steady” conservative candidate who’s making headway.

But don’t expect that to be reflected in his campaign fundraising.

“I don’t spend a lot of time on fundraising, to be honest with you, because I know it sounds crazy, but it’s not that important to me,” Santorum told IowaPolitics.com during a stop Sept. 25 at a gun show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “What’s important to me is to get out there and meet a lot of folks.”

Since his fourth-place finish at Iowa’s straw poll last month, Santorum won the straw poll in his home state of Pennsylvania. He placed fourth in the Florida straw poll Sept. 24, ahead of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann

He also was widely praised by the national media as being a winner at the Republican presidential debate Sept. 22 in Orlando, Fla. He came out strong by attacking frontrunner Texas Gov. Rick Perry on several fronts, including Texas giving in-state tuition breaks to college students who are illegal immigrants. 

But Santorum called it “garbage” that the media have focused on Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and have portrayed the two frontrunners as the only ones who can win the Republican nomination for president. 

“People are tired of being told that these are the only two candidates you get to choose from, because they’re not particularly happy with either of those candidates. They’re looking for somebody else,” Santorum said. “The bottom line is that neither of these candidates have lit anybody on fire and they both have major issues.”

In second-quarter campaign finance reports released July 15, Santorum raised a paltry $582,348. That compared with the nearly $18.4 million raised by Romney during those same three months, and the more than $4 million each raised by Bachmann, Paul and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“Our result in Ames really showed, the other three candidates who finished above me all spent a million (dollars) or probably more; ran television ads,” Santorum said, referring to Bachmann, Paul and Pawlenty. “We spent virtually nothing; probably $100,000 or less. So vote per dollar, we blew everybody away in the field. You can do that in Iowa and still do well.”

Third-quarter campaign fundraising reports are due Oct. 15, but Santorum downplayed expectations for those reports. He said the most important thing for him is to stay in the race, and you do so by spending as little money as you can.

“I really have the Iowa campaign: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Santorum said, making reference to the 1989 movie Field of Dreams and its famous line that “If you build it, he will come.”

“I’ve not focused on spending a lot of time raising money,” he said. “For someone in my position, it’s just too hard. I need to keep my expenses down. I’ve just got to be the Energizer Bunny candidate. I’ve just got to be out there doing what three staff members are doing in other campaigns, just doing it myself with the smaller staff and just volunteers.”

Santorum appeared to have scored some points among some undecided voters by attending the gun show.

“The fact that he’s here is a good sign,” said Joe Akers, 47, of Winterset, Iowa.

Akers said he had heard Santorum’s name, but was still undecided about whom to support. He said the Second Amendment right to bear arms is very important to him.

“If we lose that, everything else will tumble,” Akers said. “It’s part of our basic freedoms in the United States. That’s who we are. We started this country by defending ourselves and if we don’t in the future, it will tumble.”

Rich Hoffman, 69, of Grinnell, Iowa said he’s been “sitting back watching” and also hasn’t yet decided which presidential candidate to support.

“I don’t know much of him. What I have heard in the last day, he’s starting to impress me,” Hoffman said of Santorum.

Hoffman said his priorities include support of the Second Amendment, and wanting America’s borders to be protected. 

“If you come into this country, legal, I’m all for you,” said Hoffman, a retired police officer. “If you come in illegally, I’m 100 percent against you.”

Leading up to the Ames Straw Poll, Santorum was Iowa’s most frequent visitor. He was in the state about 57 days, even moving his wife and seven kids to Iowa for the final three weeks before the straw poll. He said that Iowa will continue to be a focus for him.

“I’m all about IowaNew Hampshire and South Carolina, and I put it in that order,” Santorum said. “Because that’s the most important."

Referencing Iowa specifically, he said "You guys are first. I’ve got to do well here, and I know that. That’s why I’m spending time here. I love the caucuses here because it gives the candidate a chance to go out and to be heard.”

charles hampton October 04, 2011 at 12:31 PM
This snake needs to crawl back under his rock.
Karen Samuels October 04, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Santorum lost all credibility as a conservative Republican when it was revealed that he was using Pennsylvania tax dollars to fund his children's' education in Virginia. source Wikipedia: "At the time the issue arose, Santorum's five older children attended the Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School,[63] with 80 percent of tuition costs paid by the Penn Hills School District.[64] At a meeting in November 2004, the Penn Hills School District announced that it did not believe Santorum met the qualifications for residency status, because he and his family spent most of the year in Virginia. They demanded repayment of tuition costs totaling $67,000."

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »