JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Rick Santorum made a bold prediction here Friday night: The Pittsburgh Steelers will go all the way to the Super Bowl for a rematch with the Green Bay Packers.Continue reading.
The former Pennsylvania senator was enjoying a rare moment of relaxation on the campaign trail here in Iowa, where voters will gather Tuesday night to cast the first real votes that count toward the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum was wearing a University of Iowa Hawkeyes cap at the Okoboji Grille, where he gathered with supporters to watch the Hawkeyes play the Oklahoma Sooners in the Insight Bowl. When he arrived at the restaurant in Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines, Santorum was swarmed by reporters, photographers, and TV cameramen who have swooped down on his campaign in the past week as polls began indicating that he was surging ahead in the pack of GOP candidates.
Most of the reporters had left the restaurant (and the Hawkeyes were well on their way to a 31-14 loss to the Sooners) by the time I had the chance to ask Santorum about his beloved Steelers. "We will beat the Browns this week," he said, sitting in front of a half-finished platter of nachos. "My prediction is, both the Patriots will lose to the Bills and the Ravens will lose to the Bengals and we will be the Number One seed in the AFC playoffs."
But while the underdog-turned-contender was willing to risk prognosticating the NFL all the way to the Super Bowl, he has remained hesitant to predict how he'll finish in Tuesday's caucuses. Santorum obviously wants to exceed expectations, but the poll numbers and media buzz surrounding his campaign are making it hard to suppress those expectations. Sunday morning's Des Moines Register carried a big front-page headline: "Romney, Paul lead; Santorum closes in," with two subheads, "Poll shows three-way race with two days to go," and "Late spurt 'another stunning turn.'" The latter subhead was a partial quote from Republican strategist David Polyansky, who told the Register's Jennifer Jacobs, "Few saw this bombshell coming. In an already unpredictable race this is another stunning turn of political fortune."
Also, at The Other McCain, "Rick Santorum Talks Steelers Football," and "Don’t Underestimate Rick Santorum’s Campaign Strength in New Hampshire."
RELATED: At New York Times, "A Time to Vote, and, for Many, to Settle."