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Rick Santorum presidential campaign, 2012

Rick Santorum President 2012
Campaign U.S. presidential election, 2012
Candidate Rick Santorum
Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
Affiliation Republican Party
Status Suspended (April 10, 2012)
Headquarters Lynchburg, Virginia
Key people Mike Biundo[1] (campaign manager)
John Brabender (senior advisor / media consultant)
Hogan Gidley (senior communications advisor)
Virginia Davis (senior communications advisor / spokeswoman)
Seth Liebsohn (director of policy and speechwriting)
Alexandra Wright (finance director)[2][3]
Receipts US$22,882,887 (July 31, 2012)
Slogan The Courage to Fight for America (previously "Fighting to Make America America Again")
Theme song "Remember Who We Are" by Krista Branch

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania began a campaign for the 2012 Republican Party nomination for president of the United States in April 2011. He had been preparing for a run since shortly after the 2008 presidential election.

Santorum lagged in the polls for all of 2011 until he surged in the week before the Iowa caucuses, propelling him to a narrow victory over Mitt Romney in the first contest of the presidential primaries. Santorum's presidential hopes received another boost when he surprisingly swept all three votes held on February 7, 2012, in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado.[4] On April 10, 2012, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Santorum announced the suspension of his campaign.


  • Background and campaign announcement 1
  • Campaign developments 2
    • Comments about homosexuality 2.1
    • Focus on Iowa 2.2
      • Significant endorsements 2.2.1
      • Late surge in polls 2.2.2
      • Victory in Iowa 2.2.3
    • New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida 2.3
    • February 2.4
  • Super Tuesday 3
    • Ohio 3.1
  • Rest of March 4
  • End of campaign 5
  • See also 6
  • Endorsements 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background and campaign announcement

Santorum stopped short of a full-fledged candidacy before the beginning of 2011. Prior to that, he had indicated that he was merely considering running for president.

Santorum filed for an Fox News program On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren on April 13, 2011.[5] He formally announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination on ABC's Good Morning America on Monday, June 6, 2011.

Campaign developments

In an August 2011 interview with the Gallup poll from March to July, everybody else who’s even in the race or a prospective in the race their name identification increase except me. And so you just sort of wonder why is the national media not talking about me when they’re talking about people like Jon Huntsman who are way below me in the national polls yet he gets press every single day. Nobody seems to want to pay any attention to me."[6]

He suffered from poor fund-raising and weak ground operations, and the viability of his campaign was in doubt during the Ames Poll. Santorum finished fourth in the Iowa Straw Poll on August 13, 2011, with 9.8% of the vote.[7] The finish was seen[8][9] as a surprising and successful one; he finished just behind Tim Pawlenty, who had significantly more money. Santorum focused on an off-the-beaten-path strategy, going to dozens of small towns generally ignored by the other candidates.[10] Although he was considered a "joke" candidate and panned as unelectable in some quarters, his solid consistency with his fellow pro-life Catholics kept him in the race.[8][11][12]

Santorum was one of the non-Mormon candidates to directly take on the accusations of Mormonism being a cult.[13]

During the presidential debate held September 21, 2011, in Orlando, Florida, a gay soldier deployed in Iraq asked the candidates if they would "circumvent" the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" if elected president. Santorum, who answered the question, called the repeal of DADT "social experimentation" and "tragic." He said: "any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military....And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to – and removing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country."[14]

Santorum has openly promoted natalist government policies as part of his campaign platform.[15]

Comments about homosexuality

During the Fox News/Google-sponsored debate, which took place in Orlando, Florida on September 22, 2011, a gay soldier deployed in Iraq asked the candidates if they would take measures to "circumvent" the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", if elected president.[16] Santorum, who answered the question, called the repeal of DADT "social experimentation" – and "tragic". "I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military," Santorum responded. "And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to – and removing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country."[16] He added: "What we're doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. And that's tragic."

While campaigning in New Hampshire, Santorum engaged college students who asked about his position on gay marriage, suggesting that allowing gay marriage would lead to the legalization of polygamy and other forms of marriage. The back-and-forth resulted in him being booed at the conclusion of the event.[17] At another event, Santorum suggested that children would be better off having a father in prison than being raised by lesbian parents.[18]

Focus on Iowa

Santorum focused much of his efforts on the early caucus state of Iowa. He established a solid ground operation in Iowa and visited the state the most of any of the candidates, having visited all 99 counties in the state at least once.[19]

Santorum's candidacy was compared to that of Mike Huckabee, who surprisingly won Iowa despite similarly poor performance in the polls. Several Republican strategists in Iowa described Santorum as a "natural fit" for 2008 Huckabee supporters in Iowa. The Washington Times reported in November 2011 that conservatives had gone on a "carousel" of supporting different candidates against Mitt Romney, from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich. As such, Santorum would be next on the "carousel".[19]

In December 2011, when Gingrich achieved frontrunner status in the race, Santorum became increasingly critical of him and his speakership. Santorum said Gingrich's Contract with America was not practical and aside from welfare reform, it fell short of its goals. Santorum said Gingrich's Contract with America was overrated and took too much credit from the Gang of Six, of which he was a part, which exposed congressional banking corruption in 1994.[20] Santorum also gained the confidence of several evangelical religious leaders and Sarah Palin for his "ideological consistency".[21][22]

In December 2011, Santorum's poll numbers in Iowa remained low, but he attracted more attention as a dark horse candidate, and said Iowans were beginning to respond to his message. He described his campaign by saying, "I’m sort of the guy at the dance, when the girls walk in they sort of walk by, and they take a few turns at the dance hall with the guys that are a little better looking, a little flashier, a little more bling. But at the end of the evening, old steady Eddie’s there. He’s the guy you want to bring home to mom and dad."[23] He urged Iowans not to go along with the polls and the pundits, who have pitted the race as being between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but to lead the national conversation by picking him, an underdog.[24]

There were complaints about a statement made in Sioux City, Iowa, when Santorum said, "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money". Santorum responded saying he did not say the word "black" but rather mumbled "blah".[25][26][27][28]

Significant endorsements

Santorum received endorsements from several major Iowa conservative leaders in the fall of 2011. Prominent social conservatives Sioux City conservative talk radio host Sam Clovis cited Santorum's beliefs in "a constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and unflagging devotion to life and traditional marriage."[32]

Other endorsements included Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz,[33] Cornerstone Church pastor and evangelical leader Cary Gordon,[21] and bestselling thriller novelist Brad Thor.[34]

In November 2011, conservative commentator [35]

Late surge in polls

Santorum campaigning in Iowa in January 2012.

After support for Newt Gingrich faded in Iowa, Santorum received a late surge in polling in the week prior to the caucuses; a CNN poll released December 28, 2011 showed Santorum jumping to third place with 16%, behind only Mitt Romney (25%) and Ron Paul (22%) and ahead of Newt Gingrich, who was first in the previous CNN poll.[36] CNN said, "Most of Santorum's gains have come among likely caucus participants who are born-again or evangelical, and he now tops the list among that crucial voting bloc, with support from 22% of born-agains compared to 18% for Paul, 16% for Romney, and 14% for Gingrich."[36]

Mike Huckabee said, "Rick Santorum, I believe, is being greatly underestimated in this race. I believe he will be the surprise candidate, not necessarily to win it, but to be in the top three or four when people don't expect him to be."[37] On December 31, 2011, the Des Moines Register released a poll, conducted December 27–30, also placing Santorum in third place behind Romney and Paul. However, the paper noted, "the four-day results don’t reflect just how quickly momentum is shifting in a race that has remained highly fluid for months. If the final two days of polling are considered separately, Santorum rises to second place, with 21 percent, pushing Paul to third, at 18 percent. Romney remains the same, at 24 percent."[38] The Register's pollster said, "Momentum’s name is Rick Santorum."[39]

Victory in Iowa

The Iowa caucuses were held on January 3, 2012, and the count that evening put Romney in first with just eight more votes than Santorum out of 125,000 cast (Romney received 30,015 votes to Santorum's 30,007).[40] Though he finished in second, Santorum's finish was still seen as a stunning victory, which could give him some momentum going forward in an uphill battle of a race.[41] Santorum's campaign reportedly raised over $1 million in less than 24 hours after his finish in the caucuses,[42] and Santorum immediately surged in national polls, with three showing him competing for third place with Paul.

On January 20, 2012, Santorum was declared the official winner of the January 3 Iowa caucuses based on the certified results from 1,766 precincts (results from 8 precincts could not be found). Santorum (29,839 votes, 25%) had defeated Romney (29,805, 25%) by 34 votes.[43][44]

New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida

He finished fourth in the New Hampshire primary on January 10, 2012, ahead of Newt Gingrich.[45]

On January 14, 2012, during the run-up to the South Carolina primary, Santorum won the endorsement of the Family Research Council, a group of 150 social conservative leaders who held an emergency meeting to determine the best social conservative candidate to coalesce around to beat Romney.[45] Santorum finished third in South Carolina with 17%.

Newt Gingrich, the winner of South Carolina, called on Santorum along with Ron Paul to drop out of the race; Santorum rebuffed the idea, noting that he won Iowa and beat Gingrich in New Hampshire, and said, "We’re not going anywhere. We are going to be in this race, we are going to stay in this race for the long haul. We are planning for the next states."[46]

Santorum campaigned for the Florida primary but left the weekend before its primary to go home and prepare his income tax records to be released to the public. However, his three-year-old daughter Bella, who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18 that kills most sufferers before their first birthday, fell ill and came close to death in a bout with pneumonia.[47] Santorum left the campaign trail for several days to be with her in the hospital.[48] He said she made a miraculous turnaround.[49] Santorum finished third in Florida's primary with 223,208 votes (13%).[50]


Santorum speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

On February 5, 2012, Rasmussen Reports' daily presidential tracking poll showed Santorum leading President Barack Obama 45%–44% in a potential general election matchup, the first time a Rasmussen poll showed him beating Obama.[51]

The Santorum campaign decided against committing substantial resources to the Nevada caucuses, where Santorum took 10% of the vote on February 4 in a 4th place finish. A focus on the states holding votes on February 7[52] paid off as the former Pennsylvania Senator won all three. Santorum edged out Romney by 5 points in the Colorado caucuses in a significant upset,[53] beat second place finisher Ron Paul by 45% to 27% in the Minnesota caucuses, and dominated the Missouri primary, defeating Romney 55%–25% in a contest that did not include Newt Gingrich on the ballot and did not assign any delegates.[54][55] Two days before the vote Public Policy Polling (PPP) had suggested that Santorum would finish second in Colorado, face a close contest with Romney and Gingrich in Minnesota, and win by a smaller margin in Missouri.[56]

Following his sweep, Santorum enjoyed a surge in national polling, with multiple polls showing Santorum in first or within the margin of error of Romney.[57]

Santorum did not do any campaigning for the Maine caucuses, but still took 18% and third place in the results announced February 11.[58]

Comments Santorum had made in October 2011[59] about "the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea" received renewed attention in February[60][61] with some observers noting that at a January 9 debate Santorum had indicated that he was not interested in making contraception a campaign issue.[62] AP writers suggest that "his ideas would probably be surprising, even puzzling, to general election voters."[63]

On February 17, Mike DeWine, the current Attorney General of Ohio and a former United States Senator, announced that he was retracting his endorsement of Mitt Romney and endorsing Santorum, with whom he had served in the Senate.[64] DeWine was the first Senate colleague of Santorum to endorse his candidacy.

On February 18, Santorum said that Obama's agenda was based on "some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology."[65] A 2008 speech in which Santorum suggested that the "Father of Lies" has been "attacking the great institutions of America" also attracted renewed media attention, along with a statement from the same speech claiming that "mainline Protestantism" "is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it."[66] Although conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh said on February 21 that Santorum would have to "answer for these" remarks,[67] a columnist for The Economist called for perspective, arguing that "when the media look only at Mr Santorum’s thoughts on family morality they end up with a caricature. He is in fact a more rounded candidate, with some impressive skills."[68]

The next contests were in Michigan and Arizona on February 28, 2012. Leading up to the Michigan primary, Santorum was neck-and-neck with Romney in the polls. Since Michigan is considered Romney's home state since he was born and raised there and his father was a popular governor there, commentators predicted disaster for Romney if he lost to Santorum in the state, which was considered an easy win for Romney prior to Santorum's surge. Santorum and Gingrich briefly considered forming a unity ticket to run against Romney at what both viewed as a critical juncture in the primaries, but they were unable to agree on who would lead the ticket.[69] Both campaigns fought hard, and Romney went on to edge Santorum 41%–38%.[70] went on to finish second in Michigan, getting 14 delegates and no delegates in Arizona. Santorum received 27% in Arizona but no delegates since it was a winner-take-all state.[71]

A controversy arose over the delegate allocation in Michigan, where party rules should have given one of the state's two at-large delegates to both Santorum and Romney for a 15–15 delegate tie.[72] However, the Michigan Republican Party's credentials committee voted to award both at-large delegates to Romney for a 16–14 edge for Romney.[73] Santorum's campaign said the committee, which was composed mostly of Romney supporters, was trying to fix the primary because it didn't like the results of the popular vote.[72] Santorum's campaign asked the Republican National Committee to investigate.[73]

Super Tuesday

Ten states held contests on Virginia, where only Romney and Paul qualified for the ballot.


Santorum and Romney campaigned heavily against each other in Ohio, a crucial battleground state for the general election. Santorum slammed Romney for "Romneycare" and made it a focus of his campaign against Romney in the state. Romney barely edged out Santorum in the primary, beating him by just 10,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast (0.8%). Some prominent Republicans had voiced concerns over Santorum's ability to win female voters, given his conservative views on contraception. However, Santorum was just three points behind Romney in the overall female vote in Ohio, and won the married female vote by four points, leading the Christian Science Monitor to say that there was "no real gender gap" between the two frontrunners.[75] Santorum won big among youth voters, winning the 17–29 age cohort by nine points over Romney and crushing Ron Paul, the perennial youth favorite. Santorum also won the 30–44 age cohort by 11 points and the 45–64 age cohort by one point, but lost the over-65 age cohort by 16 points to Romney.[75] Exit polls showed that voters who decided in the last few days prior to the election went for Romney by five points over Santorum, but voters who decided on election day itself went for Santorum by 13 points over Romney.[75]

Rest of March

After winning Kansas on March 10, Santorum swept the Southern primaries held on March 13, 2012, strengthening his campaign as he won

External links

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  7. ^ "Bachmann wins Ames straw poll". August 13, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  8. ^ a b "Rick Santorum gets straw poll bump – Dan Hirschhorn". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
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  12. ^ "Rick Santorum courts Iowa support others skip – Dan Hirschhorn". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  13. ^ "2 Romney challengers dodge Christian question." AP, October 9, 2011.
  14. ^ Lucy Madison (September 23, 2011). "Republican Gay rights group demands apology from Santorum". CBS News. 
  15. ^ "Santorum: More babies, please!". 
  16. ^ a b Lucy Madison (September 23, 2011). "Republican Gay rights group demands apology from Santorum". CBS News. 
  17. ^ Goldman, Julianna (January 10, 2012). "Santorum Draws Boos From College Crowd for Opposing Gay Marriage".  
  18. ^ Swaine, Jon (January 8, 2012). "US election 2012: Rick Santorum under pressure in New Hampshire over social stances".  
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  46. ^ Rick Santorum Says He’s Going Nowhere, in It for ‘Long Haul’
  47. ^ Santorum: Bella 'doing great'
  48. ^ Rick Santorum says daughter Bella is out of hospital
  49. ^ Rick Santorum Says Daughter Bella Has a ‘Miraculous Turnaround’
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  51. ^ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll
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  53. ^ Santorum Upsets G.O.P. Race With Three Victories
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  55. ^ 2012 Missouri Primary Results
  56. ^ "Romney up in Colorado, close race in Minnesota" Public Policy Polling February 5, 2012
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  75. ^ a b c Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum: 7 lessons from Ohio voters
  76. ^ a b c Santorum Takes 2 Races in South; Romney Is Third
  77. ^ a b Illinois Results
  78. ^ Louisiana results
  79. ^ Rick Santorum Triumphs Over Mitt Romney in Louisiana
  80. ^ Santorum Gets a Boost in Winning Louisiana
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  82. ^ Wisconsin Republican Primary
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  144. ^



See also

After dropping out, Santorum continued raising money to settle his debt, raising half a million dollars from thousands of donors in May 2012.[85] Santorum released his delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention to vote for Romney.[86] Nine delegates cast their votes for Santorum anyway.

In his first interview after dropping out of the race, Santorum attributed problems his campaign had had in gaining traction with voters to what he characterized as a nonstop media narrative that the race was over, which he said had made fundraising difficult, and to the media's having in his view unfairly portrayed him as "an angry guy." He also said it was "heartwarming" to see the way people he met while campaigning had been encouraged by learning about his daughter Bella's story.[84]

Santorum won around 250 delegates (counts vary between 240–270 in various reports and delegate estimates throughout the web).

Largely ignored as he drove past the cornfields of Iowa in a pickup, Santorum doggedly met with voters at diners, farms and county fairs. Sometimes only one voter would show up, but he kept plugging away, holding nearly 400 events across the state's 99 counties. That work paid off in a surprise win in Iowa and in 10 other states as he became the physical manifestation of the GOP base's unhappiness with Romney. But in states where he could have blunted Romney's march, he fell to a barrage of negative ads from the flush Romney operation. Santorum's ill-funded team had neither the resources nor the organization for important basics like filling slates of delegates, meaning that even in states he won he could not fully shake Romney. Santorum's decision came as key GOP figures had begun to coalesce behind the former Massachusetts governor, arguing that it was time for the party to focus on beating Obama."[83]

With campaign money drying up, losses in all 3 contests held on April 3, Romney chipping away at his lead in Pennsylvania polling, and his daughter Bella hospitalized, Santorum announced the suspension of his campaign on April 10, 2012. The Los Angeles Times wrote,

The next big contest was in Wisconsin on April 3, 2012. Acknowledging the wide delegate gap between himself and Romney, Santorum said that he would continue fighting and would secure enough delegates to deny Romney the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, which would lead to an open convention floor fight. Of a convention contest, Santorum said, "I think it would be a fascinating display of open democracy. And I think it would be an energizing thing for our party to have a candidate emerge who isn't the blessed candidate of the Republican establishment."[81] Santorum finished second in Wisconsin with 37% to Romney's 44%.[82]

Despite big wins in the South in March, after Romney's victory in Illinois the media painted a dim picture about Santorum's road ahead, as Romney's big lead in the delegate count after several early state wins was close to insurmountable. Santorum was also running low on cash, while Romney continued spending millions of dollars per state to edge out victories.

End of campaign

Santorum cruised to victory in Louisiana on March 24, 2012, taking 49% of the vote, trouncing Romney by 22 points.[78] The victory further showed Santorum's underdog capability, especially in more conservative states.[79] Santorum said his 11th victory sent shockwaves through the political world as he continued to win in the South, Midwest, and West. He told supporters in Louisiana, "You didn’t believe what the pundits have said, that this race was over. You didn’t get the memo."[80]

Santorum finished second in Illinois on March 20, 2012 with 35% to Romney's 47%.[77] Santorum won the largely middle class and rural parts of the state, while Romney won the cities and wealthy areas. Romney pounded the airwaves with attack ads against Santorum, especially in and around Chicago.[77] Romney's 12-point victory led to questions of whether Santorum's campaign was capable of continuing the fight against Romney's campaign, which had far more money and was much better organized.

[76] "For someone who thinks this race is inevitable, [Romney] spent a whole lot of money trying to be inevitable," he said. "Who would have ever thought in the age of media that we have in this country today that ordinary folks can defy the odds day in and day out?" Santorum supporters began pushing Gingrich to drop out of the race, saying he was taking votes away from Santorum and thus giving an advantage to Romney.[76] In his victory speech, Santorum said, "We did it again," to jubilant supporters, calling for conservatives to pull together behind his campaign.[76]

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