Santorum’s Final Push To The Ames Straw Poll

By: Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

Senator Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign seems to be sputtering — but it is not from a lack of trying.

Arguably Santorum has visited the early primary states more than any other candidate and his efforts are at least partially reflected in the polls. For a candidate who lost his Senate campaign by 18 percentage points Santorum regularly polls higher in Iowa than most other candidates, minus Governor Mitt Romney, CEO Herman Cain and recently Representative Michelle Bachman.

Bachman’s surge accounts for part of the reason Santorum’s campaign is faltering. They are both positioning themselves as populist candidates, actively seeking support from social Conservative groups and trying to court Tea Party voters. Bachman has also been able to raise substantially more funds than Santorum.

Another obstacle facing Sanotrum is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s potential presidential campaign, which is starting to seem very likely. Over the last year Perry has denied any interest in running, however, after Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels bowed out of the race the pressure was put on Perry to run.

Perry is seen as a candidate that can tie the populist and establishment wings of the Republican party together. Several of Newt Gingrich’s former staffers have been quietly laying the ground work for a campaign and recently Perry said he has become, “more comfortable,” with his call to run.

If, and when, Perry enters the race Santorum will face a candidate who has strong grass roots followings and the adoration of social Conservatives. Both are elements that Santorum was hoping would line up behind his campaign.

The next three weeks for Santorum are crucial if he hopes to stay competitive. He is making a last push before the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, an early testing ground of a presidential candidates’ support. On Thursday Santorum announced that he, and his family, would work in Iowa to try and win over voters.

“I cannot wait for my entire family to experience the many sites and sounds our heartland has to offer.” Santorum said in a statement.

Ther are some good signs for Santorum, he recently got a huge boost from an endorsement by Kim Lehamn, the former president of Iowa Right to Life (an anti-abortion group) and who is currently an Iowa Republican National Committeewoman.

Santorum is the first presidential candidate to receive and endorsement from an Iowa Republican National Committee person.

Lehamn said she decided to support Santorum because of his solid conservative voting record.

“He didn’t shy away from taking on the partial birth abortion ban or welfare reform and he’s certainly not going to shy away from getting this country back on track. Rick Santorum is grounded and able to lead on the national stage.”

Lehamn has a huge following among social Conservatives in the Hawkeye State because of her time as a pro-life advocate. She is going to use her influence to try and sway voters to the Santorum camp for the Ames Straw Poll.

Santorum faces a tough fight for capturing the Republican presidential nomination.

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