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While Romney roars, Santorum hopes for race reset

February 04, 2012|By Michael Finnegan
  • A child holds up a sign in support of Rick Santorum at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., earlier this week.
A child holds up a sign in support of Rick Santorum at a rally in Colorado Springs,… (Bryan Oller / Associated…)

Reporting from Loveland, Colo. — With the GOP caucuses in Nevada shaping up tonight as the fourth straight defeat for Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator took his “faith, family and freedom” tour to Colorado, where he asked conservatives to “reset this presidential race” in a party contest here next week.

Santorum is banking on networks of religious conservatives in Colorado to revive his flagging campaign with a strong turnout in the state’s Republican presidential caucuses on Tuesday. His Colorado supporters include Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and former Rep. Tom Tancredo, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration.

But the nonbinding caucuses will have little bearing on the selection of the party’s White House nominee; no delegates will be allocated on Tuesday. And even among the several hundred Santorum supporters who gathered at his afternoon rally in an exhibition hall here on the northern end of the Rocky Mountains' front range had little hope that he could defeat his leading Republican rivals, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

“I know that it’s a long shot that he’s going to be the nominee, but we want to show him our support,” said Patti Degroot, 53, a Republican from nearby Johnstown. “Hopefully it’ll send a message. Our society has become way too liberal, and we need to try and swing it back.”

Santorum used the occasion to pound Romney for telling CNN on Wednesday, “I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.”

“What person running for public office would say that he doesn’t care about the very poor?” Santorum asked the crowd. “Would any of you say you don’t care about the very poor?”

He also hammered both Romney and Gingrich for supporting the 2008 bank bailout, steps to fight global warming and healthcare reform measures similar to those championed by President Obama.

“They say they’re conservatives, but they’re not,” Santorum said, adding: “We are not going to win this election if either of these two guys are nominated.”

Santorum, dressed in his trademark sweater vest, also compared Obama to King George III in the American Revolution, saying his healthcare plan “rubs completely against what Americans 235 years ago fought for.”

“Barack Obama looks to Europe, looks to the statist model,” he said, and the president believes that Americans “can’t be trusted with freedom, because the intelligentsia, the elite, know better.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Santorum said, “there are those in this country who want to wipe the Declaration of Independence off the map. The progressives. The left wants us to separate us from God, from our founding principles. We saw it in Obamacare.”

Santorum won the Iowa caucuses, but lost primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. On Sunday, he plans to campaign in Minnesota, where he is scheduled to visit Bemidji Woolen Mills, the manufacturer of what he calls the official Rick Santorum for President sweater vest.

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