Tired and Almost Broke, Santorum Heads Home to Do Taxes

Rick SantorumRick Santorum is tired, almost broke – and going home.

Pictured: Republican
presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum listens
to a question at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.,
Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


The former
Pennsylvania senator is leaving Florida just days before the Tuesday
primary that even he expects to deal him a third consecutive loss.

Santorum
says he would rather spend his Saturday sitting at his kitchen table to
do his taxes than campaigning in a state where the race for the
Republican presidential nomination has become a two-man fight between
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

The cash-strapped candidate acknowledges that he simply can’t keep up with the GOP front-runners in Florida.

“We’re
going to talk about the Constitution and talk about being a strong
conservative,” Santorum said at an event here this week. “And that’s all
we can do.”

Outside advisers are urging him
to pack up in Florida completely and not spend another minute in a state
where he is cruising toward a loss.

Santorum
seem to be listening. He has yet to announce his primary day schedule
but says it was a mistake for him to remain in South Carolina on its
primary day.

“We can’t let grass grow,” he told reporters Thursday. “South Carolina Election Day was sort of a wasted day for us.”

But he pledged to continue his campaign regardless of the Florida outcome.

It’s
a grim period for Santorum, who just three weeks ago was riding high
after narrowly winning the Iowa caucuses. The victory was short-lived.
He lost big in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He
faced an uphill battle even before the race turned to Florida. He
doesn’t have the money to spend on television ads in Florida’s expensive
media markets. He couldn’t compete with the thousands-strong crowds his
rivals have been drawing. And he wasn’t able to find a moment here that
crystalized the rationale for his candidacy.

“Other
candidates tell you they need your help,” Santorum told Florida
Republicans this week – almost pleaded really. “They’re lying. I really
need your help.”

But help didn’t come – at
least in this state – for a candidate who is visibly exhausted and
running on, at most, four hours of sleep each night.

So
Santorum is going home to Pennsylvania, which he represented in the
Senate, and Virginia, where he lives with his wife and seven children,
to get some rest and, he says, prepare his own taxes. He also plans
fundraisers in both states as he works to rebuild his campaign account
to pay for upcoming contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

Santorum also is looking at Arizona and Michigan, which vote at the end of February – if he makes it that far.

His
inner circle of advisers is looking at the campaign checkbook. They say
they can keep a lean campaign rolling in case Gingrich or Romney
implode.

“This race is just starting. It’s a three-man race,” Santorum insists. “We’re going to be in this race for the long term.”

For
now, at least, polls show Santorum dramatically trailing in Florida,
the largest and most diverse state in the early nominating schedule. And
he seems to be coming up short as he tries to win over voters with his
everyman persona.

“I wish he had a little more
passion in the belly,” said Don Waldt, a Punta Gorda retiree who
attended a Santorum rally at dusk this week. “He is conservative and
authentic. But he isn’t on top and doesn’t seem to have a clear path to
the top.”

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