How GOP's Rising Rick Santorum Could Compete Through Super Tuesday

Eight votes. Of the 122,255 votes cast on a frosty January evening in Iowa, that’s all that separated the winner of the state’s storied caucuses, Mitt Romney, from his surging rival, Rick Santorum.  

In an almost eerie coincidence, Mr. Romney won nearly the same percentage of the vote, about 25 percent, as he did in the Iowa caucuses four years ago, when he lost to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. That result reinforces questions about the former Massachusetts governor’s ability to grow support among the Republican Party’s conservative base.

But aside from the photo finish, the story of the night was Mr. Santorum. The former senator from Pennsylvania barely had a pulse a month ago and has emerged as the conservative alternative to the more-moderate Romney for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The question for him is whether he can quickly build a national organization and war chest to compete effectively against the well-funded and well-organized Romney.

“If Santorum can get his act together, the GOP primary could certainly go beyond Super Tuesday,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, referring to March 6, when 10 states hold primaries and caucuses.

A shrinking field is likely to help Santorum. Late Tuesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was returning to Texas to reassess his campaign, a signal that he is probably about to drop out of the race. Governor Perry, who stumbled in debates after a promising start to his campaign, finished fifth in Iowa with 10 percent.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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published this page in In The News 2012-01-04 12:00:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy