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In race with Santorum, Romney's got organizational edge

The former Pennsylvania senator has inspired a passion in voters that the ex-Massachusetts governor can't seem to replicate. But Romney's operation and finances are unrivaled.

March 11, 2012|By Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times

Romney's formidable opposition research shop has forced Santorum to deal with such issues as his ties to former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who is reviled by conservatives, and his work bringing home federal money for expensive projects in his state.

Although Romney has dealt with his own set of self-inflicted problems, his campaign has managed to keep Santorum on the defensive, in part because Santorum's operation is returning fire with a smaller staff than is found on many state-level campaigns. Santorum's camp relies largely on the media to find documents and video from Romney's past, such as statements Romney made in 2009 about healthcare reform that only recently emerged as an election controversy.

Santorum talks about his lack of consultants as a badge of honor. When asked how he was doing in Michigan on the day of the primary, he shrugged: "I'm not a pollster. We don't even have a pollster."

Romney has had a traveling press secretary for months; Santorum's spokeswoman began traveling with him on the day of the Michigan primary. Romney's press corps accompanies him on chartered flights, following a schedule so precise that he has begun several recent events 45 minutes early. Reporters covering Santorum must chase him on commercial flights, which has meant less coverage.

Supporters for both candidates believe their campaigns — whether powered by passion or organizational might — will ultimately prevail. Two nuns watching returns at Santorum's election night party in Steubenville said they were putting their faith in a higher power.

"I'm not worried," said Sister Maria Claire. "The Lord is in control."

maeve.reston@latimes.com

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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