Santorum Takes PA Victory Lap; Slams Perry

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Rick Santorum seemed at ease this morning in front of Pennsylvania reporters as his discussed his presidential campaign at Republican Party headquarters in Harrisburg.

The former Senator elaborated on the beat-the-odds narrative of his fourth-place finish at the Ames Iowa straw poll, discussed his three day swing through Pennsylvania, and gave a preview of what Texas Governor Rick Perry can expect to face when they cross paths during a debate.

Santorum detailed the outcome at Ames, contrasting his campaign’s $100,000 effort to those of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who he said had spent over $1,000,000.

“For the press here, if you weren’t in Iowa, I’m not too sure most people realize how big of a deal that was. The three candidates that finished above me all spent in excess of a million dollars. All of them were on television – mostly in central Iowa, but some of them across the state.”

The campaign rolled through events in Northeastern PA yesterday. In addition to a fundraiser and the media availability in the Harrisburg area this afternoon, Santorum will travel to Centre County to visit the Grange Fair and participate a few other events. On Wednesday, he will take a swing down the Route 22 corridor near Altoona and Johnstown, and finish his tour with several events in Pittsburgh. Planned events in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley were cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.

He said he wanted to prove himself at Ames before making a serious push for PA support and campaign contributions.

“Now I can come back to Pennsylvania, having accomplished the credibility that I think is necessary to come back to the folks in Pennsylvania and say, this is not some piped up dream, some Walter Mitty moment for Rick Santorum. But in fact, we’ve got what it takes to put together a credible campaign, do well in Iowa and continue to move forward in the rest of the primary states,” he said.

“And so we’re coming back to talk to our friends and supporters here, and raise a little bit of money.”

However he downplayed his expectations for the trip, characterizing most of the events as “meet and greets,” and emphasizing that they were organized only a week ago.

Pivoting to Perry

Asked what the next campaign benchmark would be, Santorum cited three upcoming Presidential debates as his opportunity to distinguish himself from the field. He stands ready to challenge Governor Perry, who has recently surged to the top of national polls, at the next opportunity.

“We’ll see how conservative Rick Perry really is. He hasn’t been in a debate yet. There are alot of things about his record that will give conservative pause.”

Santorum gave a laundry list of criticism about Perry’s record in Texas, staring with the Governor’s support of the pro-immigrant DREAM Act. Santorum also blasted Perry for supporting Al Gore for President in 1988 (“I can’t imagine any point in time in my life that I would think of supporting Al Gore for anything”), and Rudy Giuliani early in the 2008 primary (“He was supporting a pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-bigger government Mayor of New York”).

He saved his strongest language for Perry’s controversial 2007 executive order mandate that Texas girls receive a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease HPV.

“To require it, and have parents have to be aware of it and have to opt out, that is the heavy hand of government,” Santorum thundered. “That is something I’d expect from Barack Obama, not someone who says they’re a conservative.”

Perry since backed away from the policy – which was overturned by the Texas legislature – after it emerged that one of his campaign contributors had lobbied in favor of the rule. It was an issue in Perry’s 2010 primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Santorum he dismissed the notion that Perry would keep other conservative candidates from gaining traction.

“They said the same thing about Michele Bachmann a few weeks ago,” he said, arguing it indicated that Republicans were unhappy with the field. “Candidates have gone from zero to 30 points, and then back down to two. It happened to Herman Cain, now Michele Bachmann is drifting down.”

Odds and ends:

He complained that recent “gay Jihad” comments had been cherry-picked by the media, as opposed to his evidently extensive remarks about manufacturing policy.

Santorum confirmed that his family made its Virginia residency official about a year ago.

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that Perry supported Gore in 2000. Actually, as a Democrat Perry was Gore’s 1988 Texas campaign chairman.

6 thoughts on “Santorum Takes PA Victory Lap; Slams Perry

  1. Perry and santorum have two things in common. Both are political opportunists and both are too narcissistic to take second place.

  2. Santorum is a nobody and Rick Perry is a lunatic who has no idea how government works. Rick Perry had to beg for federal funds (billions of dollars) to balance his budget in Texas over a period of 3 years. He wants to kill Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, he wants the laws against dicscrimination and the laws protecting the environment trashed. He is a typical tea partier. Let’s be clear about one thing: the tea party is a terrorist organization that is bent on the destruction of the US government. The tea party is really our present day KKK. The tea party hides its racism behind code words like “states’ rights” but that is what the southern racists of 60 years ago did too.The tea party is a small group of elderly, rich, white racists who hate minorities, immigrants, the middle class and the poor and who are plotting the destruction of the federal government. We have to fight this tea party cancer every step of the way and encourage the FBI to investigate the tea party as a terrorist group. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

  3. Santorum is an idiot. On the CDC-recommended, FDA-approved vaccine that prevents cancer, the “mandate” would have had an easy opt-out provision, but it never went through in the first place. 20 states now mandate it (but not Texas– it never was mandated for a single day here), with several more states expected to mandate it soon. “Mandate,” by the way, just allows it to be covered by insurance and S-CHIP. It doesn’t mean you are penalized if you don’t do it. Unlike some dozen or more other truly compulsory vaccines, people could have theoretically (since it never happened) just refused this one.

    Last year, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina tried throwing this issue at Perry, as did Democrat Bill White. It’s a yawner, and it’s moot because nearly five years down the road, no girl in Texas has EVER been forced to receive the anti-cancer vaccine. Not a one. If Perry really had wanted to force the issue, he could have forced it through. He didn’t. He let it drop.

  4. “..having accomplished the credibility..”

    Rick Santorum is incredible (with the meaning: not-credible)

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