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Santorum’s ‘Game of Survivor’
He looks west.

Rick Santorum in Luverne, Minn., Jan. 30, 2012

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Robert Costa

“It was a Pawlenty–Romney race, then Bachmann–Romney, then Perry–Romney, then Cain–Romney, and then a Gingrich–Romney race,” Santorum says. “It’s just silly. How many times is the media going to be wrong about this being a two-man race? Whoever is in the race is in the race. Maybe you guys are just simple and you can’t deal with more than two things at once.”

Santorum adds that he may not share the financial heft of Gingrich and Romney, but after a string of weekend fundraisers in Virginia and Pennsylvania, he has enough to last “to Super Tuesday and beyond.” If he continues to strike a chord with conservatives, he may even catch up to Gingrich’s numbers. “Look at Gingrich and the millions of dollars he was in debt; we’re not,” Santorum says. “We’re in cash-flow-positive situation. We’ll be able to fight the good fight.”

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Santorum’s survival will be boosted by Foster Friess, a wealthy investor who is ladling cash on an independent, pro-Santorum super PAC. According to the Wall Street Journal, Friess remained mostly on the sidelines for much of this month, but he told the paper that after the dust settles in Florida, he will pay for television ads in western states Santorum has targeted.

But it’s the chance to focus on politicking in the suburbs of Denver and Minneapolis that keeps Santorum optimistic. He is pleased with his debate performances but yearns to showcase his “emotional” connection with working-class conservatives in upcoming primaries. “That’s the challenge for me,” he says. “I see this as part teacher, part storyteller, part leader. You try to connect with an audience, bring them in, and tell them not just what you believe but why.”

Santorum remains a longshot, of course, a quixotic conservative with few dollars to spend. “But remember, I’ve got the energy, the passion, and the positions to take on Obama forcefully,” he says. “That will make the difference in this election. The others struggle to make that case.”

Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.



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