MN Voters Appreciate Santorum's Visit
January 31, 2012, 4:59 PM
LUVERNE, MN -
Rick Santorum's town hall in Luverne, Minnesota, Monday night is still generating a lot of buzz. He's the first GOP presidential candidate to visit the state this year. But will it make a difference in the Minnesota caucuses next week?
Instead of the original meal of pizza and politics, Santorum's appearance was popcorn and a show. He may not be running for royalty, but Santorum's town hall had to be moved from the Pizza Ranch to the Palace Theater to accommodate more than 200 guests.
"It's not often you get to meet a presidential candidate," Luverne resident Adam Hansen said.
"I hope he stays in the race as long as he possibly can," Pipestone resident Charles Boeder said.
Santorum specifically visited Rock County, in part, because of his strong showing in neighboring Lyon County, Iowa, during their caucuses last month. And while he currently trails both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the polling for Minnesota's caucuses, Santorum's painting himself as the one Republican focused on the country's problems and not personal attacks.
"Who is the best person to go up versus Barack Obama and make those issues stick?" Santorum said. "To let the public know that what the President is doing is undermining the very fundamental values we have."
And while the crowd was obviously pro-Santorum, his assessment of the Republican field is resonating with Minnesota voters.
"He's just more conservative," Adrian resident Michelle Widman said. "I like his ideas - faith and family. He's just a strong candidate."
"I hope Rick Santorum can be an alternative candidate to give some respect again to the Republican party," Boeder said.
"He's the most conservative candidate in the race, I feel," Hansen said.
Minnesota's delegates are non-binding, so no matter who wins the caucus next Tuesday, those results could change depending on the official nominee at the Republican National Convention. But voters are impressed by Santorum's decision not to ignore the state.
"I think we have a good Republican base in Minnesota," Boeder said.
"I know a lot of my friends and family are very excited about him and I'm glad he came to this area," Widman said.
"You don't own America," Santorum said. "You're stewards of a great inheritance. And it's your obligation to pass that on."
Whoever wins the Republican nomination will have a tough time in Minnesota. The state has voted Democrat in the last nine presidential elections, the longest streak in the country.
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