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Santorum on Register poll: ‘We’re the campaign with momentum’

at 08:50 PM ET, 12/31/2011

OTTUMWA, Iowa — Rick Santorum said late Saturday that new poll numbers from the Des Moines Register show Iowa conservatives are rallying around him as an alternative to Mitt Romney, who the poll shows remains the race’s frontrunner.


Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum holds a baby as he campaigns outside the Legends American Grill in Marshalltown, Iowa, Dec. 30, 2011. (JOHN GRESS - REUTERS)

Informed of poll results following a rally for about 200 people at a conference center in this town 90 miles southeast of Des Moines, the former Pennsylvania senator reminded reporters that polls showed him at 5 percent just 10 days ago. The latest numbers have him in third in the race with 15 percent. But in the final two of four days of polling, the Des Moines Register said Santorum moved into second place—picking up 21 percent of support, just behind Romney’s 24 percent.

“I think we’re the candidate that conservatives are starting to rally around. That’s pretty clear from the poll,” Santorum said. “We’re the campaign with momentum. If conservatives want to stop Mitt Romney, than Rick Santorum is the train that’s right at his heels.”

He said conservatives are “very, very concerned about making sure Mitt Romney doesn’t come out with a big win out of Iowa. And there’s one candidate who’s moving in and closing in.”

Santorum attributed his progress to hard work and the kind of grassroots, person-to-person contact that Iowa voters appreciate.

But questions linger about whether the upstart candidate would have the money to compete beyond Iowa, if he had a surprise showing on Tuesday. Santorum dismissed those concerns Saturday.

“I think the people of Iowa can determine what’s going to make the person successful,” Santorum said. “Whether you have energy and ideas and are going to face the tough questions and do the tough interviews and be available to reporters. Or someone who can raise a lot of money.”

He said the difference between polling late in the week and earlier in the week likely came as potential supporters began to realize he was picking up momentum.

“People are realizing I can win this,” he said.

 
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