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Santorum: Contested convention 'an energizing thing for our party'

 

APPLETON, WI -- With less than 36 hours remaining until Wisconsin voters may well hand to Mitt Romney another primary victory, Rick Santorum told reporters that a contested convention in Tampa would be "fascinating" and "energizing" for the Republican Party.

"I think it would be a fascinating display of open democracy and I think it would be an energizing thing for our party to have a candidate emerge who isn’t the blessed candidate of the republican establishment," he told reporters during a stop at a cheese shop and factory.

"I think that’s a good thing, it’s a good narrative for us," he said of a prolonged primary contest and floor fight.  "It makes this election a short election. The shorter this election in the fall, the better off we are, not the worse."

Santorum, who trails in public polls in the Badger State, faces increasing calls to exit the race and allow Romney, who's working to cement his status as the party's presumptive nominee, to focus on the general election.

But the former Pennsylvania senator, who spends much of his stump speech arguing against that premise, has vowed to keep the heat on his rival.

"Cutting this short and getting the wrong candidate is worse than making this a fight for the heart and soul of America and the heart and soul of the Republican Party," he told voters last night in Green Bay."

In Appleton, Santorum offered a lengthy explanation of his view of a contested convention, saying that the ultimate nominee would be determined by unbound delegates rather than by "power brokers" like in past cycles.

"That’s just not how the Republican nomination works anymore," he said of traditional "brokered conventions" of old.

Santorum also hopes that a strong showing in his home state of Pennsylvania in three weeks will re-inject an air of legitimacy to a campaign that most political observers now see as a sideshow.

"We're going to win there," he said of Pennsylvania. "The maps look a lot better for us in May."

But of Wisconsin, he only promised "a good vote ... a loud, confident vote from conservatives."