Santorum tickets sold out for Cape event; overflow event set

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up to a supporter at the Livonia Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, in Livonia, Mich. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The 700 tickets for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech in Cape Girardeau next month have been gobbled up, prompting U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to organize an overflow event where the potential Republican front-runner will make remarks before catching a flight out.

Emerson announced the news Monday, less than two weeks before Santorum's March 10 address at the party's Cape Girardeau County Lincoln Day event. Following his 7 p.m. speech, Santorum and Emerson will go to a hangar at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, where a gathered throng is expected to be waiting.

"The tickets for the dinner are sold out and so I am appreciative of the folks at the airport who are going to let us use their venue for people who weren't able to purchase a ticket to have an opportunity to see Senator Santorum," Emerson said in a prepared statement.

The event at the airport will start as soon as Emerson and Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, arrive. Emerson's office encouraged people to get there between 7 and 7:30 p.m.

The Lincoln Day event is at 6 p.m. March 10 at Ray's Plaza Conference Center.

The interest in Santorum, who touts himself as a true conservative, reached a fever pitch after Emerson announced he was coming to Cape Girardeau earlier this month and Lincoln Day sold out shortly after, said Holly Lintner, president of the Cape Girardeau Republican Women's Club that sponsors the event. Typically, about 350 Lincoln Day tickets are sold during presidential election years, she said.

"We knew he was going to sell out, he has enough of a following here," Lintner said. "But not that quick."

Santorum will be in Cape Girardeau at a particularly important time in the campaign. His event here will happen four days after Super Tuesday, when 10 states will hold primaries or caucuses where 437 delegates are up for grabs. A week later, Missouri will hold its caucuses for the state's 52 delegates.

Santorum won Missouri's nonbinding presidential primary with 55 percent of the vote over his nearest challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Depending on the results on Super Tuesday, Santorum may come to town as the runaway favorite for the nomination or -- if Romney wins big -- struggling to stay alive.

Lintner said those results "will and won't" make a big difference about how Santorum is received locally.

"Evangelicals aren't going to be swayed about how well he does," she said. "He will do strong in our caucuses, and I think he will ultimately be the one Missouri will support."

With the general election still more than eight months away, recent polling data suggests that Republicans overall, and Santorum specifically, are on an upward tick.

In a poll released Monday by USA Today and Gallup, President Barack Obama lags behind the two leading Republican rivals in the 12 states that are considered likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November.

Santorum tops Obama 50 percent to 45 percent in the swing states, including Missouri. Nationwide, Santorum's lead shrinks to 49 to 46 percent.

But the news within the GOP that came from the poll was that Romney had erased a 10-point deficit against Santorum among Republicans, with 31 percent of the respondents saying they would support Romney and 26 percent favoring Santorum.

Lincoln Day chairwoman Lisa Reitzel, who is one of 11 so far who have expressed their intention to file for county public administrator, still believes Santorum will emerge as the nominee.

"I think he is just coming across as a true conservative," she said. "Mitt Romney has a lot of money, but Rick Santorum is focusing on things that are real problems for us right now -- the economy and jobs. He seems to be focusing on the issues, and that's what people want to hear."

At the Lincoln Day event, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder will serve as the master of ceremonies. Former "America's Got Talent" winner Neal Boyd will sing, and Emerson will introduce Santorum. Reitzel will introduce officeholders, who will not speak, and present the Bill Emerson Public Service Award.

Lintner will introduce Kinder and the various candidates. County Auditor Pete Frazier, who is also the president of the Pachyderm Club, is presenting the Pachyderm Tough Tusk and Meritorious Service Awards. Attorney general candidate Ed Martin will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Jean Howard-Hill, chairwoman of the Republican National African American Caucus, will offer the prayer.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

3257 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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