Rick Santorum fighting for attention in South Carolina
Santorum's frustration at being excluded from a Labor Day forum that Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is hosting for GOP presidential hopefuls came bubbling up as the former Pennsylvania senator hopscotched the state, which will host the second presidential primary contest early next year, on a busy weekend of campaign stops.
"So Jim doesn't invite me -- he invites Rudy Giuliani who is not a conservative and isn't even in the race?" Santorum said to reporters. "To me it just doesn't make any sense but my job is to continue and be in South Carolina on Monday."
Referring to another former congressional colleague who is helping to organize the Labor Day event, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Santorum added: "Steve King said it would be a great mistake if somebody passed on the Iowa Straw Poll -- well I didn't. I finished fourth and the guy that finished fourth in the Iowa Straw Poll isn't invited to his forum."
Under the rules of the forum, candidates had to register at least five percent in the Real Clear Politics average of presidential polls in order to score an invitation. Santorum is at two percent.
Giuliani has the poll numbers to qualify for an invitation but didn't get one because he failed on another criterion: Only declared candidates can participate in the Monday forum, which will feature former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and two Georgians: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and businessman Herman Cain.
While his rivals take the stage in Columbia on Monday afternoon, Santorum plans to be 90 miles to the northwest, marching in the Simpsonville, S.C., Labor Day parade -- his second of the day.
Santorum is keeping a busy schedule in the state, whose evangelical voters he sees as a natural audience for his socially conservative message. On Sunday, he plans to visit churches.
He packed four stops into his Saturday itinerary, starting with a breakfast in Goose Creek, S.C., and ending with a football game in Charleston. Before the game, he spoke at an American Legion, a Mexican restaurant and a Golden Corral. His largest audience: about 130 voters.
"We are running a very very very low budget campaign," Santorum said. "If you want someone who can accomplish a lot on a little, you want to elect Rick Santorum."
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