No Florida-specific pitches yet from Santorum

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, speaks at a campaign rally in Coral Springs, Fla. Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, speaks at a campaign rally in Coral Springs, Fla., Jan. 22, 2012.
AP Photo/Steve Mitchell

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - As Rick Santorum began campaigning here Sunday in a bid to resurrect his lagging candidacy, he stayed away from state-specific issues.

The former Pennsylvania Senator had plenty to say about the meaning of his win in the Iowa caucuses, President Obama's politics, and the threat of a nuclear Iran. But his nearly 40-minute speech to a crowd of about 250 supporters contained no appeals to the state's large Latino population; no plea to voters to take part in early voting (which began Saturday); and only the briefest reference to the slumping housing market - still a major issue in the state hosting the nation's fourth Republican contest.

Santorum did remind Florida voters that they had the privilege and responsibility of choosing a conservative candidate. But he also focused on trying to downplay his losses in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, where he came in fifth and third, respectively.

"We've had three races," Santorum said. "One in Mitt Romney's backyard, in the state of New Hampshire. He has a home in New Hampshire, he's campaigned there for six years and, as I said before, was the governor of the neighboring state. Last night we had a race in South Carolina right across the border from where Newt Gingrich was, and pretty much his backyard and where he staked his claim. And they were able to win in their backyard.

"Well, there was one race that was in nobody's backyard," he continued, invoking Iowa. "There was one race where you had to go out and have a level playing field and compete, and we won that race."

He also trained his sights on Gingrich, with whom he is competing to establish himself as the more conservative alternative to Romney. His jabs at Gingrich included a remark that conservatives tried to end his speakership of the House in the '90s, and a reminder that he once filmed a commercial seeking action on climate change with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a widely-loathed figure among the political right.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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