POLITICS

Rick Santorum: Obama, Romney share distrust of America

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Gingrich trails with 107 and Paul has 46, according to Associated Press calculations. Santorum's small-government message resonated with Allan Holthaus, a 63-year-old Topeka contractor and farmer, who said he views Santorum as the most honest GOP candidate and the one most likely to try to deliver on his campaign promises.

Greeting Santorum after the rally, he said: "You help us get the government off our backs, and we'll help you fix it, that's for sure." Santorum was also hoping to muscle Gingrich out of the race in the coming weeks, if not after Tuesday's contests in Alabama and Mississippi.

Gingrich's advisors had said the former House speaker must win both states to stay in the race. Santorum's advisers anticipate Gingrich's conservative supporters would turn to Santorum and perhaps derail Romney's better-organized, better-funded political organization.

"We feel very confident that we can win Kansas on Saturday and come into Alabama and Mississippi and this race should come down to two people," Santorum told reporters.

But Gingrich told The Associated Press at a campaign stop in Mississippi that win or lose on Tuesday, he's staying in the race through to the Republican National Convention scheduled for August in Tampa, Fla.

"We'll clearly do well enough to move on, and I think there's a fair chance we'll win. But I just want to set this to rest once and for all: We're going to Tampa."

Even before he arrived in Kansas, a state his rivals largely overlooked, Santorum signaled strength here.

"Since Romney and Gingrich have decided not to campaign in Kansas, we feel pretty confident that we're going to do well," Santorum told reporters before leaving Alabama.

Despite his anti-Washington message, Santorum faced grumbling from tea party activists for skipping their big rally in the state's largest city.

They spent $25,000 to rent the Century II arena in downtown Wichita and expected 1,000 to 3,000 people to attend.

"It seems like it is counterproductive to show up for an event that is going to have 300 people in an airplane hangar instead (of) 3,000 people in a nice setting where you can actually contact and really maybe sway somebody," said Craig Gabel, the president of Kansas For Liberty, which organized the Wichita event.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was the only presidential candidate participating in the tea party event. Santorum appeared not to know the timing of the tea party event and said he had to get to a speech Friday evening in Houston, a commitment he said was made months ago.

 

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