Wednesday, March 21, 2012

With Loss in Illinois, Pennsylvania Rises in Importance for Santorum

At New York Times, "Pennsylvania Rises in Importance for Santorum After Loss in Illinois":

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — It may seem an odd choice, holding a rally here in Pennsylvania to “celebrate” the results of the Republican presidential primary in Illinois.

Rick Santorum’s staff said that he came here Tuesday night for a symbolic connection to the Land of Lincoln, as Gettysburg is “the very place President Lincoln gave his most poignant and passionate defense of freedom and the American spirit.”

But Mr. Santorum also came here to plant the flag. The Pennsylvania primary is not until April 24, but it is essential that Mr. Santorum, who represented the state for 16 years in Washington, win here if he is to have any hope of moving forward, particularly after his loss Tuesday night in the Illinois primary.

Despite the loss, Mr. Santorum sounded defiant Tuesday night while speaking to supporters in Gettysburg, saying he would press on.

“We have five weeks to a big win,” he said of the Pennsylvania primary, and he returned again to the theme of his parents and grandparents who worked in the mines, “men and women who worked and scraped and clawed so their children could have a better quality of life.”

While early polling in Pennsylvania shows him leading Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul in the popular vote, he has cause for concern in the more important contest for the state’s 72 delegates.

They can vote for anyone at the party’s nominating convention in August in Tampa, Fla. Some are in fact uncommitted, but many have connections to the state party and the establishment, which leans toward Mr. Romney.

By coming here Tuesday, Mr. Santorum could focus on trying to trying to persuade some of those uncommitted delegates to commit to his side.

“This will give him a chance to sit down around the table and say, ‘Let’s go through the list of who we’ve got lined up and who we have to go back to and revisit and work on,’ “ said one person close to the Santorum campaign who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “There will be assignments from tonight, ‘Go back to visit with people, talk to your guys,’ and Rick will be reaching out to folks.”