Share This Page

Santorum admits end of his Republican presidential campaign might be near

| Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, 9:03 p.m.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican presidential candidate, speaks Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, at the New Hampshire Republican Party summit in Nashua, N.H.

URBANDALE, Iowa — Four years ago, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses and ended up as the final challenger against Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

But Sunday, with a week to go before this year's Iowa caucuses, he stands at just 1.2 percent in the Real-ClearPolitics average of recent statewide polls, the 11th among 11 candidates.

In an impromptu interview with USA Today and The Des Moines Register after attending services at New Hope Assembly of God here, he acknowledged what he previously has refused to discuss: It may soon be time for him to think about folding his campaign.

“If the people of Iowa put their faith in me, we're going to continue on,” he said. “Given the circumstances of this race, I don't think we have to win. We just have to finish ahead of the pack that's sitting in single digits right now. I think we're going to come out with a lot of wind at our back.”

And if that doesn't happen?

“You reach a point when you realize that you aren't going to accomplish what you're going to accomplish and you have to look out for the greater good,” he responded. “And I've always believed in the greater good. I'm a person who believes in a cause and trying to make this country better, not about Rick Santorum and my own aggrandizement.

“I'll go through that process, whether it's after Iowa or whether it's after Super Tuesday or whenever it's happening. We'll go through that process and determine if we have a pathway to get there, and if we believe we do, trust me, no one will fight harder, no one will work longer.

“And if we don't, you have to work out what's in the best interest of our country.”

Some political analysts have counted Santorum out. Because of his low poll standings, he has yet to make it to the main stage for the Republican debates — a situation he decries as unfair.

“The media have decided they're going to segregate the race,” he said. As a result, he said, supporters from his 2012 bid sometimes tell him they didn't realize he was running this time.

But for any candidate, especially one who came within shouting distance of the nomination last time, it can be hard to admit that the race isn't going to turn in his or her favor in time.

Santorum, 57, has not thrown in the towel. On Saturday, he launched a final campaign swing through the state, with more than 50 events scheduled until the caucuses on Feb. 1. His campaign has announced a “special unveiling” in Iowa City early Monday: He'll don the sweater vest that became his humorous signature in 2012 but had not made an appearance during this race. “Breaking out the heavy artillery,” an aide said.

The rise of outsider candidates, especially billionaire businessman Donald Trump, has shaped a very different contest from four years ago.

“People are frustrated,” Santorum said. “They believe there are a lot of things going on in our country that are very disturbing. And sometimes you look for something, you look for someone who sounds like they're strong and tough. I get that. I respect that. Donald Trump is very forceful. I just caution everybody ... look at what they believe in. Look at how long they've believed it.”

At some point, Santorum predicted, “the novelty wears off (and) they're going to be looking for an alternative.”

But perhaps, he admits, not soon enough for him.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.