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Surging Rick Santorum

December 29, 2011 by staff 

Surging Rick SantorumSurging Rick Santorum, After watching the likes of Rick Perry, Herman Cain and lately, Newt Gingrich emerge as challengers to front-runner Mitt Romney during the long road to the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told TODAY Thursday his own sudden surge has legs that the other candidates haven’t shown.

In a surprise, former also-ran Santorum has climbed ahead of Gingrich to move into third place in a new CNN/Time/ORC poll for GOP Iowa caucus participants, behind Romney and Ron Paul. Speaking with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, Santorum said he believes his previous runs for office in Pennsylvania – including a 1990 Congressional campaign and a 1994 Senate campaign in which he defeated incumbent Democrats – shows he can come up big in November.

“I’m the only one in this race that has a track record of winning elections in tough states,” Santorum said from Coralville, Iowa, in advance of Tuesday’s caucuses. “I have to think that’s one of the reasons that people in Iowa are looking at us and saying, ‘Wow, this guy has defeated, straight up, two Democratic incumbents in very tough districts and in a very tough state.’ ”

Still, Santorum’s surge could be short-lived. While polls show Santorum trailing Romney by 9 percentage points in Iowa – and just six points behind Paul – the polling numbers for the upcoming New Hampshire primary are less rosy for him. The poll shows Romney leading with 44 percent among likely GOP voters, while Santorum lags in fifth place with 4 percent.

Guthrie asked Santorum if his ardent social views, including his pro-life stance and his objections to contraception, may play well in socially conservative Iowa, but less so in a moderate Republican state like New Hampshire.

Santorum was quick to separate the two issues: “My views on contraception are consistent with my Catholic faith,” he said. “But as a person who was involved in the United States Senate for 12 years, I voted to allow contraceptive funding.

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