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Santorum goes pheasant-hunting but doesn't bag endorsement

Joshua Lott / Reuters

Rick Santorum looks on during pheasant hunting in Adel.

By NBC's Alex Moe

 

ADEL, Iowa – For the second time in as many months, Rick Santorum went pheasant hunting with one of Iowa’s most prominent conservatives but with no news of an endorsement.

With just about a week out from the Jan. 3rd Iowa caucuses, Iowa Congressman Steve King joined Santorum for a day of hunting near Des Moines.

“Well it's the day after Christmas -- not a particularly great day to go and do a whole lot of town hall meetings,” Santorum told reporters following a roughly three-hour hunt. “I just thought we'd do something that is fun, something that I enjoy doing and I know the folks here in Iowa enjoy doing also and doing with some good friends.”

Many GOP presidential candidates have been trying to court Rep. King to publicly back them, but none have been successful – not even pheasant hunts have changed his mind, including two with Santorum and one with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"I want my head and my heart to come together,” Rep. King said about a pending endorsement and noted there may still be one before the caucus.

NBC's Kristen Walker reports.

Santorum, who hunted pheasants, quail and chukars while wearing a bright orange vest and hat,  told reporters that his campaign is the one with “momentum” going into the first-in-the-nation caucus next week.

“I feel very, very good that all the work that we've done, all the groundwork we've done, the foundation we've laid, is coming and working just perfectly,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. “We feel very good. We have a lot of energy on the ground. Our campaign is clearly the one that is rising right now and has the momentum.”

Santorum, who is still polling in the single digits depsite having visited all 99 counties and spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate, believes there are actually three primaries going on: Libertarian (Ron Paul), moderate (Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney), and conservative (Santorum, Perry and Michele Bachmann).

“You've got three folks running as strong conservatives, I think if we win that primary we're in very good shape as the non-Newt-Romney,” the former Senator said.

The one prediction Santorum had for reporters: “We're going to surprise a lot of people with how well we do on caucus night.”