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Santorum Talks Low, Aims High

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt “Romney has the problem I think of having been the architect of the Obama health care plan. Is there anybody who thinks Sarah Palin is going to be president? No. You go down the list of possibles and you get to the point where Rick Santorum can be president,” Urban said. “Don’t ever forget that Rick is a conservative’s conservative and he’s always been that way. He has a base that is not only deep in certain states, but also wide.”

It’s unclear, however, how much of Santorum’s base is from his home state.

The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling last month found that just 38 percent of Pennsylvania voters have a favorable opinion of him. And in a hypothetical contest, Santorum trailed Obama
48 percent to 40 percent.

“Let’s be honest. You don’t have to win Pennsylvania to win the [general] election,” he said. “I mean there are 105 electoral votes that Barack Obama won in states in this last election cycle that went overwhelmingly red. I’ve got to win those states if I’m in this race.”

Republican fundraising consultant Carolyn Machado agreed that Santorum’s donor base does extend beyond Pennsylvania but said that he “will need to get his name out there on a much larger scale to catch lightning in a bottle” like fundraising magnets Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) or Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle.

“Right now the name of the presidential game is organization, hiring talent and building strong teams both in the key states and on the campaign. Santorum seems to be moving aggressively on this front and making the case that he is the conservative to watch,” Machado said. “If Palin or [Rep. Michele] Bachmann decline to run, he could be right.”

Meanwhile, Santorum’s next test will come at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

He will be among the featured speakers Thursday afternoon. And he hopes for a solid finish — or at least one that exceeds expectations — in Saturday’s straw poll.

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