GOP presidential candidate Santorum says Missouri important to his campaign

Sunday, February 5, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum shows off his Farmer's omelet at the Mark Twain Dinette in Hannibal, Mo., Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Conservative Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says Tuesday's Missouri primary will show how he could do in a primary race with no Newt.

Speaking to a news conference in Hannibal on Friday morning, Santorum said he can beat Mitt Romney one-on-one if Newt Gingrich is out of the picture.

"When we go head to head with Governor Romney, we can beat him. When Speaker Gingrich goes head to head with Governor Romney, he can't. The polls show it and it will show on Tuesday," Santorum said. "If I'm out of the race, most of my votes go to Governor Romney. If he's [Gingrich] out of the race, most of his votes go to me."

Gingrich is not on the ballot in Missouri because his campaign missed the deadline to file for the primary.

Santorum touts himself as the "only true conservative" in the Republican field. But after a close victory over Romney in the Iowa caucuses, Santorum has faded as Romney and Gingrich have surged forward. Santorum garnered 17 percent of the vote in the South Carolina primary and 13 percent in Tuesday's Florida primary.

Despite the fact that Missouri's primary is nonbinding for delegate representation, Santorum sees Tuesday's vote as crucial for his campaign.

"If we can show we've got strength here, I think that reflects very well on us and shows that in a key battleground state that we can run very, very well," Santorum said. "The caucuses are coming up in about a month and a strong showing in the presidential preference poll will lead to a lot of enthusiasm going into those caucuses."

Missouri Republicans begin the selection process for their national convention delegates March 17 with county caucuses.

Santorum drew large crowds at campaign stops at a Hannibal diner and the town's former National Guard armory Friday morning. He also gave a speech at the William Woods University student center in Fulton, Mo., on Friday afternoon, and made an appearance with conservative author and commentator Dr. James Dobson at a church in Columbia, Mo.

The Missouri primary has sparked little interest among political pundits and candidates. Santorum is the only major Republican candidate to visit the state so far.

The Tuesday primary shares a date with caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado. Early last week, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan estimated that about 23 percent of Missouri voters would go to the polls Tuesday.

Pertinent address:

Hannibal, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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