Rick Santorum, Iowa's GOP man of the moment

DES MOINES, Iowa - As presidential candidates storm Iowa making a final push this weekend, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is getting increasing attention as polls are showing for the first time that he could finish strongly here and have a big impact on the GOP race, CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford reports.

In the Hawkeye State, Santorum is the man of the moment.

"Folks know what I believe in," said Santorum. "That's what they're looking for: Someone they can trust, someone who's authentic."

Special Section: Election 2012
Candidate Page: Rick Santorum
Romney, Paul lead in Iowa, but Santorum surging

It's a remarkable and rapid rise for the former senator from Pennsylvania. For months, as other candidates not named Mitt Romney surged, then fell back, Santorum struggled to get attention even at the debates.

But after spending more than 100 days campaigning in Iowa, Santorum said he always believed his message would break through.

"I trusted the people of Iowa," said Santorum. "I believe that we brought something to the debate that was different.

More of Crawford's interview with Santorum

"There's more than just a little, narrow issue called jobs. Huge issue but there's more to being a president, and there's more to that issue that than just, you know, what your economic plan is."

(Below, CBS News political director John Dickerson breaks down the race in Iowa on the "CBS Evening News.")

Santorum has a solid conservative message. One example: Cutting federal spending on public schools.

"I don't see a role for the federal government in education," he said while campaigning in Davenport.

That's appealing to social conservatives like homemaker Sherri Wisecup.

"I like his Christian values and his family values," she said.

Many Iowa voters remain undecided. Wisecup said she's torn between Santorum and Romney.

"Too bad we can't put the two together and mesh some business experience with values," she said.

Romney still holds front-runner status as polls show him edging out Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Santorum, but Santorum questioned whether Romney, a one-term Massachusetts governor, could beat President Obama.

"He's never run as a conservative and won anything," Santorum said.

Santorum said he could beat Mr. Obama, that he knew how to win elections in swing states like Pennsylvania and would appeal to those key independent voters and do all of that without compromising his conservative principles.

  • Jan Crawford On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter