Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 02/14/2012

With his rivals focused on Super Tuesday, Santorum courts voters in Washington state

TACOMA, Wash. — Rick Santorum is at it again.

While his opponents swing for the fences, aiming for wins in bigger primary contests, Santorum was content to play small ball Monday night, focusing on the caucus here, a contest that is essentially a straw poll. Speaking to hundreds of supporters and a very vocal group of protesters outside the Washington Historical Society, Santorum said the March 3 non-binding caucuses will set the tone for Super Tuesday, when 11 states go to the polls.

“Your caucus, your voice will speak very loudly about where the race is heading into these big Super Tuesday primaries. Your caucus across this state can have a huge impact on who the Republican nominee will be,” Santorum said. “I ask each and every one of you to do your duty, to live up to your honor, to come forward and to go to those caucuses on Saturday morning.”

Betting that die-hard social and fiscal conservatives will make up the bulk of caucus-goers, Santorum will appear in Idaho on Tuesday and North Dakota on Wednesday.

Even as Santorum became the first GOP candidate to visit the state, his rival Mitt Romney announced a slew of endorsements from state officials.

Arriving on the very day that same-sex marriage became law, Santorum encountered a raucous group of protesters — some waving gay pride flags, others yelling for the Citizens United decision to be reversed.

He spent part of his day meeting with local officials and pastors, condemning the recent reversal of California’s gay marriage ban by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court.

At times the former Pennsylvania senator, who rattled off a series of wins last week and now finds himself atop some national polls, had to shout over the demonstrators.

He called it a “sad day for many people.”

“The core of American values is at stake in this country,” he said.

By the end of his speech, Santorum was wet from misty rain and had glitter accents in his hair.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 02/14/2012

 
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