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Santorum says he's in the race for long haul

 

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- A defiant Rick Santorum on Thursday attempted to squash any rumors that his campaign is coming to an end, guaranteeing to reporters that he will be in the presidential race for the long run.

"We have a long, long way to go," said Santorum. "We feel very comfortable that as we keep going we're going to pick up our delegates, we're going to stay in this race, and the longer we're in it, the better off we'll be."

The former Pennsylvania senator has signaled a waning commitment to Florida since arriving in the Sunshine State on Sunday. The campaign is still unsure if they'll be in the state on the day of the primary, or if they'll begin campaigning in the quickly approaching caucuses in Nevada or Colorado -- two places Santorum has indicated he will focus on next.

A long primary season would likely present more challenges to Santorum as his would struggle to compete with campaigns with more robust organization and deeper pockets. Santorum has conceded he has no staff in Minnesota or Maine, and only volunteers in Missouri -- states that will hold their contests in early February.

Reshuffling of campaign events and last minute changes to his schedule have fueled speculation that the Santorum campaign might be on its last legs.  But today the GOP hopeful signaled his Republican rivals were behind the rumors.

"I know where they're coming from, they're from the other camps. I get that," Santorum said of the hearsay. But, he maintained that no competing campaign has contacted him directly and did not specify which of the candidates he believed were behind it.

It is his fellow candidates vulnerabilities and the volatility of the race that is one reason the Iowa-caucus victor says he has not plans to quit.

"This is unprecedented. We've never had three winners," he said, referencing the fact that three different candidates have won the first three contests of the primary season. "We've never had the dynamism of having eight leaders. And this race is constantly changing ... we believe that that dynamic is still very present."

He has compared the frontrunners in this race to the porridge in the story of Goldilocks, calling for Gingrich "too hot" and Romney "too timid."  It's the propensity of the former speaker to speak off the cuff and the long standing inability of the former Massachusetts governor to connect with voters that has Santorum that his longevity in this race may be rewarded.

And despite recent polling showing him well behind frontrunners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in Florida, the candidate struggling to remain relevant will campaign in the state on Friday before heading to Pennsylvania for a fundraiser and returning to Virginia on Saturday to sleep in his own bed since Christmas. It is at that time Santorum will prepare his tax documents to be released, though he has not said specifically when he will make them available to the public.

He returns to Florida for campaign events on Sunday and Monday.

"I guarantee you, we're going to be in this race for a long time," he said.