Santorum Looks Beyond Evangelicals to Attract NH Votes

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  • Rick Santorum Campaign pic
    (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
    Signs are posted inside the campaign headquarters of Republican presidential candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum in Manchester, New Hampshire. Santorum scored a major victory by taking Iowa's Republican nominating contest right down to the wire on Tuesday. January 4, 2012
By Paul Stanley, Christian Post Reporter
January 4, 2012|3:48 pm

Although he lost to Mitt Romney by eight votes in the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum was clearly Tuesday night’s big winner. But now he has to leave the safety of a state filled with like-minded, evangelical voters for New Hampshire, where Romney has been building a formidable campaign since day one.

But Santorum’s small staff in New Hampshire, which likely won’t get much larger before Election Day, says they will make do with what they have.

“We know we can build on yesterday’s big win in Iowa,” said Bill Cahill, who heads up Santorum’s New Hampshire campaign. “We’ve got to make it happen with the limited resources we have because we can’t afford to hire tons of staff. We believe Rick’s positions on taxes and national security will appeal to a majority of New Hampshire Republicans.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has a second home in the Granite State and is as well-known as any politician in the state, is primed to win New Hampshire’s Republican vote. He has a 30-point lead and voters are comfortable with his brand of moderate, mainstream politics.

To highlight the gap between Romney and Santorum in New Hampshire, the latest Suffolk University poll of GOP primary voters shows that Romney has a commanding lead at 43 percent, while Santorum comes in fifth with a paltry 5 percent.

“The problem for Santorum is he’s walking into some hostile territory,” said Saint Anselm College senior fellow Patrick Griffin to The Christian Post. “But closing a gap of this magnitude – as we Christians might say – will take a miracle. Mr. Santorum is about to come into the white-hot glare of being relevant and he may not be used to this type of scrutiny.”

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Despite his campaign being outnumbered and underfinanced in the Granite State, Santorum has nevertheless chosen to go directly to New Hampshire to make his case.

“I’ve spent more time in New Hampshire and done more events than anybody but Jon Huntsman,” Santorum told Iowa supporters on Tuesday. “We feel very, very good that we’ve got the organization. And money is coming in better than it’s ever come in.”

While Santorum may gain more social conservative support with Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of his chief rivals, dropping out, the former Pennsylvania senator will need to widen his base to win New Hampshire, including focusing on economic issues.

“New Hampshire is a great place for any candidate to showcase their knowledge of the nation’s economy,” said Scott Moody, vice president of policy at Cornerstone Policy Research, a non-partisan group dedicated to preserving traditional values and limited government in New Hampshire.

“But he needs to understand that he’s not in Iowa anymore.”

 

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