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Huckabee and Santorum and Coffee and Pizza

Huckabee, right speaks alongside Trump, center, and Santorum, left, at a Trump event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- The last two Republicans to win Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses have formed an odd fraternity: mired in the low-single digits in polling, marooned in the undercard debates and even finding themselves attending a campaign rally Jan. 28 for the frontrunner, Donald Trump.  

On Sunday, they rallied the troops with coffee and pizza. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the caucuses in 2008, assembled the faithful at Inspired Grounds Cafe, crowding into the quaint coffee shop with more than one hundred supporters and a laundry list of old friends, students, public officials and even the odd celebrity: Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, former Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. and comedian Jimmy Labriola (Benny from "Home Improvement.") There was even a dog. It's a pretty casual place.  

"Bacon!" Huckabee said as someone snapped a picture of him and a group of high school seniors from Monomoy High School in Cape Cod, Mass., who were in the state on their AP government class field trip.  

He invited people to a screening of "God's Not Dead 2" at the Jordan Creek Cinemark Theater here. He has a cameo in the Christian film and he quipped he would be the first sitting president to win an Oscar. "I just want to thank the academy and all the little people," he joked.  

And although the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, released on Jan. 30, showed Huckabee registering at only 2 percent of support, he said to expect a surprise.  

"People will say, 'Oh, my. He done did it again," the folksy former Fox News personality promised the crowd.  

The new Iowa Poll of 602 likely Republican caucusgoers was conducted Jan. 26-29 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines and has a 4-point error margin.  

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who eked out a narrow victory in 2012 that kept his campaign alive and allowed him to hound eventual nominee Mitt Romney for months, clocked in at a similar 2 percent in this year's Iowa poll.  

On Sunday night, he was stumping at Pizza Ranch in Urbandale. His campaign aides opened the partition separating the Bunkhouse (capacity 36) from the Winchester (capacity 24) rooms. The buffet -- separated into separate pizza, salad and fried chicken bars -- provided attendees with supper. The Texan Taco and Chicken Bacon Ranch pizzas seemed to be among the most popular items with the Santorum crowd.  

Pizza Ranch, established in 1981 in Hull, Iowa, is a chain that now stretches across 13 states and has more than 180 locations. Its vision statement is "To glorify God by positively impacting the world," a sentiment that fits in with the religiously conservative Santorum. The location in suburban Urbandale is conveniently located off of Interstates 35 and 80 just outside Des Moines, which, coupled with its budget-conscious prices, helps it meet its stated mission: "To give every guest a legendary experience."  

The Bunkhouse and Winchester rooms filled up. State GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann was on hand to disparage the polls. "I know the Des Moines Register is not going to get it right, surprise, surprise," he said.  

He introduced Grassley, who launched into his stump speech about making sure the enthusiasm shown in the run-up to the caucuses holds through November and praising Santorum as a man of integrity and faith.  

"Now, I don't know when he's going to get here," Grassley said, and was interrupted by several people who said back to him, "He's here!" And then Santorum made his entrance to country music.  

"Oh! You're here!" Grassley said, and greeted Santorum warmly.  

"I didn't want Chuck to see me, because I thought he might not say as many nice things about me if he knew I was listening!" Santorum said. The crowd was into it, clapping and laughing.  

Among those in attendance was conservative businessman Foster Frieze, who told those assembled, "We need a guy who can win," and rolled off Santorum accomplishments like sponsoring legislation overhauling the welfare system and a ban on partial-birth abortion. "Look at what he accomplished," Frieze emphasized.  

Santorum was most animated when asked his opinion about whether the Republican National Committee made a mistake in catering to Trump and the mogul's demands, particularly with the debates.  

"Everybody [should be] treated with respect. There is no undercard. There is no kids table," he said. But he said Iowans can do their part in voting for whom they truly want, without considerations of how to handicap the general election. "We expect you to lead, not follow," he said, adding, "You were right four years ago."  

Raising his voice, Santorum pleaded. "Do your job Iowa. Stand up and have the courage of your convictions."  

It might be the last card he has to play, at his last roundup at the Pizza Ranch.

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