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Santorum's moment overshadowed by Perry's exit

 

CHARLESTON, SC -- Despite revised results in the Iowa caucus showing he finished 24 votes ahead of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum found his potential moment in the sun overshadowed Thursday by news that a rival Republican was exiting the race.

The Iowa GOP's official tally, until today, had Santorum losing to Romney by eight votes, but on Thursday the Republican Party of Iowa today released the certified tally, which gave Santorum a 34 vote advantage over Mitt Romney. NBC News will not declare a winner in the race.

But the questions the former Pennsylvania senator had faced throughout the day about the recount were paired with queries about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's departure from the race.

"We can win elections, we can organize, we can put together an effort to pull the resources together to be able to be successful in being the person that can defeat Mitt Romney because guess what, we defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa," Santorum said this morning about the revised results.

But the follow up about reaction to Perry leaving the race: "I know it's a tough day and it's been a tough process for them and my heart and prayers go out to them and congratulations to them on stepping up when you thought your country was calling you to try to make a difference."

Along with his announcement to leave the race, Perry also endorsed Newt Gingrich, a blow to Santorum, whose campaign is attempting to appeal to many of the same conservative voters Perry did. Still, after an appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Santorum maintained that anytime the field narrows is a good thing for him.

Speaking at the SRLC just moments before former presidential candidate Herman Cain, Santorum remained focused touting his Iowa victory. While how the development will impact Santorum in the polls remains unclear, campaign aides he said they have already seen a bump in fundraising.

Still, the former Pennsylvania senator is still struggling to compete with Gingrich and Romney in the Palmetto State, proclaiming only that he would show momentum here.

"We feel very, very good about what this win will mean," he said.