Santorum surges, poised for surprise as right wing votes

Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign rally at the Hotel Pattee yesterday in Perry, Iowa.

Santorum, a second-tier candidate until a jump in the polls occurred last week, claimed the momentum as he and the other Republican candidates barnstormed across Iowa making final arguments and trying to bolster turnout ahead of today’s Iowa caucuses.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul are neck and neck in the lead in Iowa polls.

But Santorum, uniting voters on the Christian right who have been divided for months, is making a late move and could pull off a victory.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who could suffer with a good Santorum showing, tried to slow the momentum of the former Pennsylvania senator, who lost his re-election bid in 2006.

Romney eyes Iowa advantage

With the Iowa caucuses looming today, it seems inevitable that the former Massachusetts governor will do well in, if not win, the first contest in the race for the Republican nomination for president.

But even as Romney appears positioned to take control of the Republican race, a question hangs over his campaign: Can he connect with voters on a personal level any better than he did during his losing campaign in 2008 — or even inspire them?

Nearly three days of traveling with Romney in Iowa revealed a candidate who has improved significantly in face-to-face encounters with voters, but who still has difficulty inspiring them.

Romney’s crowds are respectful, but not the boisterous groups one might associate with a front-runner. 



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