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Away from Nevada, Santorum campaign is undeterred

GREELEY, Colo. - As his plane touched down in Denver, Colo. on Saturday afternoon, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum peeked up from his iPad to announce the first results he had seen come out of Nevada. “We’re tied with Romney in Searchlight, Nevada. That may be the highlight of our day,”  Santorum joked to the handful of reporters following him throughout the state.  "You guys are going to tweet that, aren't you?"

While most of the political world was focused on the Silver State's caucus, the former Pennsylvania senator headed east for three stops in Colorado.  He remained upbeat and largely dismissive of any impact the results would have on his candidacy -- even as it became clear he would finish last, something he has been able to avoid in all previous primaries and caucuses.


"It's a state that very much favors Gov. Romney," Santorum said of Nevada.  "He's invested about $1 million in the state already.  Ron Paul's got close to $1 million in the state.  We just don't have those resources. We think we'll do well in some of the conservative areas...Las Vegas doesn't match up for me as well as some other states do. We're not putting an emphasis on it."

 

Santorum's absence from Nevada on Saturday marks the second straight time when the candidate was not in the state that was voting.  When Florida voters went to the polls last Tuesday, the GOP hopeful was in Nevada and arguing the Sunshine State's results show nothing more than the fact that candidates with the most money do well in the state's that are most expensive.

Since his Iowa caucus victory, Santorum has struggled to remain relevant.  With each state he has lost, the excuses have built. Romney took New Hampshire because he hailed from a neighboring state, and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina for the same reason, he argues.

Political observers point to his ailing poll numbers and comparatively low war chest as evidence Santorum's campaign is on its last legs.

But the Santorum campaign remains undeterred by the conventional thinking that their candidate needs wins that translate into momentum and money is irrelevant.  They have more money now than at any point during their run.  And while reports have indicated Newt Gingrich is losing support from some of his big money backers, Santorum to this point has not had that issue.

 The commitment does not seem to be waning from Foster Friess, the billionaire largely funding the pro-Santorum Super PAC "Red, White, and Blue Fund."  Friess has recently been with Santorum, traveling with him to each of his three stops and illustrating the blurry laws that say candidates are not allowed to collaborate with Super PACs.

"We don't talk about any activity of the Super PAC at all," said Santorum. "I have no idea about what he's doing or how much he's giving and I don't want to know. We talk about family. We talk about other activities. He's very careful in that regard and so am I."

Outside of Friess' influence, Santorum has been able to continue to translate their Iowa victory into dollars, though still underfunded compared to the campaign coffers of the three other Republicans still in the race.  Santorum has made the comment in the past that the only reason candidates stop running for president is because they run out of money.  Campaign aides say they are stretching dollars as far as possible to ensure that doesn't happen soon.

Another sign that the Pennsylvanian has no plans to leave the race are the debut of newer and sharper hits on his GOP rivals.  "Newt can throw out some funny lines about people going to jail, but he supported the basic concepts of Dodd-Frank.  And you don't think the President's going to point that out?  You don't think the President is going to point out what their position is on health care, which is identical to his?" Santorum asked while campaigning in Montrose, Colo.

"I heard Mitt Romney say the other day that he doesn't care that he doesnt care about the very poor.  He doesn't care about the very rich or the very poor, that his program's going to focus on the 95%," Santorum said. "I thought, that's not the Republican party I believe in. That's not the conservative movement I believe in.  We need a President who believe in 95%, or 99% like this president.  We need a President that's concerned with 100% of Americans."

Santorum now heads to Minnesota for a day of campaigning and will be back in Colorado Monday night.