Santorum Gets Boost After 4th Place Finish in Iowa Straw Poll

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Aug 15, 2011   |   11:15AM    Washington, DC

Rick Santorum was not expected to coming in 4th place in the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday — ahead of better-known and better-funded candidates. And with the Republican presidential race partly becoming an expectations game, Santorum gets a boost by performing much better than expected.

Santorum came in fourth behind expected winner Michele Bachmann and expected second place candidate Ron Paul, both of whom turned out their evangelical and libertarian supporters. Tim Pawlenty, who lost the expectations game, placed third and withdrew from the race over the weekend.

Now, Santorum hopes the strong finish will boost his fundraising and allow him a better chance to compete with top tier Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney and Rick Perry — who did not compete in the Iowa poll.

“I am incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support our campaign received today,” said Senator Santorum in a statement to LifeNews. “The press and pundits had written us off and chose to ignore our message. But voters rallied around our message, that America will be great again if we elect a President who has the record of results through proven leadership. The people of Iowa sent shock waves through the political establishment and our success though does not end here in Ames today, but moves forward to the Caucuses and beyond.”

“We were in range of three. I mean I felt like here’s a guy [Pawlenty] who spent a million bucks in this and we spent a fraction of that and here we are within a few hundred votes of him and I feel very, very good about that. I feel we’re positioned exactly where we want to be,” Santorum told CNN. “If you look at the top four, three of them can win the caucus. And I really feel that Ron Paul can’t win this caucus and can’t win this nomination and the other three candidates have a potential to do so. The top three tickets get punched out of Iowa, so I feel really good about that.”

“This morning the phones were buzzing,” Santorum told Politico Sunday. “If we had one-tenth of the money the other campaigns had, we could have done better. It was a one-man band. I was playing the harmonica, the accordion and the drums. But people followed the music.”

“I feel like we’ve positioned ourselves perfectly for this race,” Santorum said. “Ron Paul is not someone who can win the caucuses. And Michele Bachmann has a lot of question marks about her. I’m confident that we’re going to do very well at picking up folks who want a strong conservative who’s a constructive leader.”

Santorum visited 68 of Iowa’s 99 counties, holding 111 town hall meetings and rallies in libraries, coffee shops, and even living rooms. Now, he is reportedly heading to Pennsylvania to raise critical funds needed to compete through the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary election.

His campaign said the results are a “vindication for Senator Santorum’s belief that a clear, consistent and proven conservative record resonates with Americans. Outspent in Iowa by more than six to one in comparison to his nearest competitors, Senator Santorum showed that leadership trumps showmanship and that the American people deserve more than just television commercials, news conferences and empty promises.”

After the vote, Santorum told the Associated Press that he credited his victory to his focus on pro-life issues and said  “I will not back down” on pushing pro-life themes.

Santorum received kudos from pro-life advocates after providing an articulate defense of the pro-life position on abortion in cases of rape and incest during the Republican presidential debate last week.

Santorum was asked why he didn’t support abortion exceptions for rape and incest and he pointed out that society should help pregnant women in such cases rather than push them into abortions. He said the crime of rape should not be exacerbated by the crime of an abortion and that the unborn child did not deserve to die simply because of the circumstances surrounding his or her conception.

During his eloquent defense of the pro-life position against abortions in rare cases of rape or incest, he pointed out that under current law, a murderer or rapist can escape the death penalty, but a child conceived in rape cannot escape execution if the mother decides to have an abortion.

Santorum said:  “You know the Supreme Court of the United States on a recent case said that a man who committed rape could not be killed, could not be subject to the death penalty, yet the child conceived as a result of that rape could be. That to me sounds like a country that doesn’t have its morals correct. That child did nothing wrong. [Applause.] That child is an innocent victim. To be victimized twice would be a horrible thing. It is an innocent human life. It is genetically human from the moment of conception, and it is a human life, and we in America should be big enough to try to surround ourselves and help women in those terrible situations who have been traumatized already, [to] put them through another trauma of abortion? I think it’s too much to ask and so I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough.”