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Santorum hints at leaving FL before Tuesday primary

 

NAPLES, FL -- Failing to show early signs of momentum in the Sunshine State, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Wednesday signaled he may be cutting out of Florida before the state's Jan. 31 primary.

Speaking to reporters here, the former Pennsylvania senator said was unsure if he would be in Florida the night of the primary, committing only to campaigning in the state over the next two days. On Saturday, he'll head home to Virginia for fundraisers and to prepare his tax records which he plans to soon make public.

Santorum said this weekend will be the first time he's slept in his own bed since Christmas.

His campaign has acknowledged that the large and expensive state of Florida would be a tough place to do well. His war chest is dwarfed compared to that of frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who each also have well funded Super PACs.  A Quinnipiac Poll released today shows Santorum running nearly 20 points behind the top candidates.

But the GOP hopeful has been seen strong crowds in the South, drawing more than 1,000 supporters to a Megachurch here. And his rhetoric suggests he has no plans to leave the race anytime soon.

"This race has just started.  It's a three man race.  We're going to be in this race for the long term," he said.

Santorum will campaign in the Florida Panhandle on Thursday before tomorrow night's debate in Jacksonville. But plans after that remain fluid, his staff has advised. The candidate has dismissed any change in schedule is a sign of a waining campaign. His trip is a chance to raise money and prepare his tax documents, said Santorum.

"I want to get that issue, you know, out there and behind me so I'm not the guy thats not doing their taxes."