Spin Control

Santorum looking for caucus support

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum holds a press conference in the House Republican Caucus Room on Feb. 13, 2012 (Jim Camden)
GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum holds a press conference in the House Republican Caucus Room on Feb. 13, 2012 (Jim Camden)

Under the watchful eye of Ronald Reagan's portrait, Rick Santorum holds a press conference in the House Republican Caucus Room

OLYMPIA – Looking for a chance to “plant a flag” in Washington for the March 3 precinct caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum stopped by the state Capitol Monday to chat with GOP legislators.

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Although his visit coincided with the day Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the same-sex marriage bill and opponents filed a referendum to overturn it, Santorum and legislators in the closed door caucus meetings said the issue didn’t come up.
Instead, they talked about health care, and what might replace the current federal reforms if he is elected and those laws are repealed. They talked about poverty, and keeping families together to help get them out of poverty.
At a later press conference, he called Obama’s newly released budget a disaster, insisting that “raising taxes on wealthy people” and expanding federal programs will not solve the nation’s problems.
Santorum is the first Republican presidential candidate to visit Washington in advance of the caucuses, but he doesn’t have the organization of rivals Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Organization is often crucial to winning caucuses and “We’re building it,” he said.
Many legislative leaders have already endorsed Romney, and the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign counterpunched Monday by setting up a telephone conference with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other top Republicans already on his campaign.
Without mentioning Santorum, the Eastern Washington congresswoman cited Romney’s record in business, called him “a man of faith” and mentioned he’d been elected governor in a very Democratic state.
But even legislators supporting other candidates gave Santorum good marks. Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said he came across as “authentic”.
“I’m happy that a presidential candidate would actually pay attention to us,” Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said.
 




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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