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Santorum Talks Low, Aims High

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum, seen here at last month’s March for Life on the National Mall, is traveling extensively to early 2012 presidential primary states ahead of an expected bid.

Indeed, Santorum is the first to have secured state directors and chairmen in both Iowa and New Hampshire, places he has visited a combined 18 times so far. And Santorum said he’s currently interviewing prospective staff in South Carolina, host of the nation’s second GOP primary and a state he has visited 10 times.

“I have someone in my sights,” he said of a South Carolina state director, while Brabender noted that other national announcements are expected in the coming two weeks. “They’re people from specific early states, but they’re more national consultants,” said Brabender, an adviser to 2008 presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani.

Santorum is baffled as to why the rest of the Republican field isn’t more active with the first presidential debate just three months away.

“As far I can see, I’m the only one that actually has spent time in all three early primary states. It is February. It’s pretty bizarre,” he said, noting that he’s doing the best he can with the opening he’s been given. “I’ve never been accused of either winning or losing a race by not working hard enough. My daddy just recently passed away. That was the thing he drummed into my head more than anything else ­— 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration. Work, work, work.”

But as his prospective opponents are well aware, Santorum has challenges. He often finds himself embroiled in controversy, most recently for inserting President Barack Obama’s race into the abortion debate.

Further, Dennehy noted that while Santorum may like to paint himself as an outsider, he served in Congress for 16 years — two terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. And Republicans have not forgotten the drubbing he took in his 2006 re-election bid.

Moving On

Santorum largely shrugs off the embarrassing 18-point loss to Sen. Bob Casey (D) four years ago.

It was a “no win” election, he said, claiming that several successful 2010 GOP candidates, such as Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.), would have lost in that Democratic year.

But the loss, and the subsequent four years out of office, also gives Santorum an opportunity to downplay his connection to the Washington establishment.

“I have a lot of friendships, but when I left the Senate — you can check with my colleagues up on the Hill, they’d say, ‘Yeah, he left,’” Santorum said. “I don’t think endorsements mean a whole lot anyway. So I’m not going to go chasing around someone from — pick a state. The endorsement of someone from Iowa or South Carolina helps. But I don’t think someone from Washington state helps me, or Washington, D.C.”

That said, Santorum has consulted with friend David Urban, a Washington-based GOP operative and former chief of staff to then-Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

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