He can claim few friends on Capitol Hill among the most conservative offices thanks in large part to his aggressive campaign to help then-Sen. Arlen Specter — a Pennsylvania moderate — defeat conservative favorite Pat Toomey in the 2004 GOP primary.
"In terms of an actual Hill staffer, I could not name a single one who supports him," a senior Republican aide told Roll Call. "Doesn't mean there aren't any."
Santorum is not likely to be back in Washington until after Super Tuesday on March 6, giving him time to focus on campaigning in the states that could help prove his legitimacy to the Washington crowd, the campaign adviser said.
Wichterman is working particularly hard to court outside groups that can help mobilize voters, such as the Family Research Council, Frank Gaffney's American Center for Security Policy and FreedomWorks, the conservative organization, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (Texas), that has pledged to support anyone but Romney.
But building a coalition like that — based largely on tea party types who recoil at the thought of lobbyist connections — raises another awkward contradiction in Santorum's strategy.
His close ties to K Street are no secret. He was the Senate liaison to the lobbying community for much of his tenure and has been linked to the K Street Project, a 1990s GOP effort to get Washington firms to hire Republicans in top positions. Tax returns released last week reveal that he has made millions of dollars as a D.C. consultant.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.