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Rick Santorum refuses to admit defeat, will continue on to Pennsylvania

By Seema Mehta

April 03, 2012
  • Rick Santorum speaks during a primary-night party in Cranberry, Pa.
Rick Santorum speaks during a primary-night party in Cranberry, Pa. (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Reporting from Mars, Pa. — With nary an acknowledgment of his triumvirate of losses in Tuesday’s primaries, Rick Santorum said the race for the nomination was at its midway point and that he would win his home state of Pennsylvania in the next contest.

“We have now reached the point where it's halftime; half the delegates in this process have been selected. Who’s ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half?” he said, speaking in a half-empty ballroom in this town about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. “… The clock starts tonight. We’ve got three weeks to go out in Pennsylvania and win this state, and after winning this state, the field looks a little different in May.”

Santorum, who faces dwindling prospects to become the GOP presidential nominee, did not mention his losses Tuesday in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., nor did he mention rival and GOP front-runner Mitt Romney by name, though he alluded to the former Massachusetts governor as a moderate with shifting positions.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, instead highlighted his local roots and the region’s history, a nod to how critical a victory in Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary is to his chances at the nomination.

“It’s great to be here in southwest Pennsylvania, where I grew up, in a steel town about 20 miles northeast of here in this same country, Butler, Pa. And this area, this area, like that town and like the people in it, forged steel to build this country, to help win world wars … and we forged people with strong values and a strong commitment to what made America great,” he said. “This is why we came here; this is why I wanted to come back to southwestern Pennsylvania to kick off the second half. This is a part of the country -- Pennsylvania -- that well, it’s where America started. Not only did we forge steel in this state, we forged liberty in this state.”

In recent weeks, much of the GOP establishment has coalesced behind Romney as the likely nominee, including former President George H.W. Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio last week. Santorum brushed back at the notion that the race was essentially over, comparing his vow to keep fighting to George Washington’s successful surprise crossing of the Delaware.

“Some in the other campaigns have said that all the significant people have spoken in this race,” he said,  and the crowd groaned, “Nooooooo!” “See, Gen. Washington knew that in fact not all the significant people are those elites in society, those who are the generals and the ranked officers. But in fact what Gen. Washington understood was that some of the best ideas and the best plans, in fact what has made this country great, is we have listened to the real significant voices of everyday Americans, and he did, and that’s why he crossed the Delaware, surprised the Hessians and turned the tide of the Revolution.”

“Ladies and gentleman, half the other people in this country have yet to be heard and we’re going to go out and campaign here and across this nation to make sure that their voices are heard,” he said.

Santorum acknowledged that, as in other states, he would face a barrage of negative advertising, robocalls and others attacks financed by Romney and his supporters, but he urged Pennsylvanians to remember the 16 years he represented them in the Senate and the House.

“You know me,” he repeated multiple times.

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