BRENTWOOD, N.H.—Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was greeted by a large, enthusiastic and curious crowd at his first campaign stop in New Hampshire in the wake of a stunning photo-finish with former governor Mitt Romney in Iowa. Santorum told the crowd his shoe-string operation has raised as much money in one day as it had in all the months that led up to it.

Campaign Manager Mike Biundo, in attendance at the town hall held at a senior center, said the campaign has collected about $1 million since falling to Romney in Iowa by just 8 votes in the opening round of the Republican presidential primaries.

Santorum told the crowd that they should not believe that another candidate — a clear reference to Romney — is more electable than he.


View Photo Gallery: Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

“What would give you that impression?” he asked. “When has that candidate ever run as a conservative and gotten any votes? Never. So why would you assume he’s the most electable? Because he raises the most money?…Don’t buy the media hype. Don’t buy the line that you have to be a moderate to be able to win the election.”

He said Americans are looking for “bold colors, not pale pastels.”

“Lead and be bold, because this is not a time for us to shrink,” he said.

Santorum opened his remarks with a stem-winder of an assault on President Obama, who he accused of undermining the nation’s core strength by encouraging reliance on government.

“So you believe here in New Hampshire exactly what they believe in Iowa, exactly what they believe in South Carolina. I’ll bet you also believe that this government, under Barack Obama, is undermining that very basic principle of what America is all about,” Santorum said.

“He is systematically destroying the work ethic. How? By the narcotic of government dependency,” he said.

And he responded to comments from his 19-year-old nephew, who recently said that a vote for Santorum was a vote for the status quo. With humor, Santorum said he loved the young man — one of his 35 nieces and nephews. But the youth is a supporter of Rep. Ron Paul.

“God bless him, it’s a phase,” Santorum said. “We all have one of those.”

Santorum’s roots in the often-verbose Senate chamber quickly became evident as he took questions for nearly 90 minutes. During the wide-ranging discussion, he offered lengthy discourses on everything from the distinction between Social Security and Supplemental Security Income to his once fruitful conversations with President Clinton over reforming Social Security (“We were working on something, and Monica Lewinsky’s dress popped up,” he said) to the religious significance of the city of Qom, where the Iranian authorities have built a nuclear facility.

An undecided voter said he appreciated Santorum’s grasp of policy.

“I was very impressed,” said Stephen Murray, 35, a lawyer from Wolfeboro, who before the speech had said he was considering Santorum and Romney. But he said he had not yet decided. “I have six more days.”

Santorum’s long answers (“I’ll wear you down!” he promised, as a dozen hands still waved after he’d been answering questions for more than hour) had his staff waving a white piece of paper as a signal to wrap. They fretted that he was seven minutes late for a national radio interview they’d booked. And then he took another question.

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