Santorum gets more good news in the Midwest

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Froehlich's Classic Corner Feb. 20, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio. AP Photo

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Froehlich's Classic Corner Feb. 20, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Froehlich's Classic Corner Feb. 20, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio.
AP Photo

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum is getting some good news this week out of the Rust Belt, a region that is expected to play a critical role in the 2012 election.

The Red, White and Blue Fund (RWB Fund), a super PAC backing Santorum, announced Friday it's spending $257,000 to buy ad time in Ohio, a key swing state. The investment comes a week and a half before "Super Tuesday" on March 6, when Ohio and nine other states will hold their nominating contests.

A Quinnipiac poll from earlier this month showed Santorum leading among likely Ohio Republican primary voters with 36 percent, followed by Mitt Romney with 29 percent.

The RWB Fund has already purchased ads in Michigan, where Republicans vote on February 28 and Santorum is trying to maintain a slight lead.

Additionally, officials in Indiana announced Thursday that Santorum has qualified to appear on Indiana's May 8 primary ballot, the Indianapolis Star reports. Indiana law requires presidential primary petitions to contain 500 signatures from each of the state's nine congressional districts, and initial tallies suggested Santorum was few signatures short.

The latest developments bolster the momentum Santorum picked up after sweeping three nominating contests earlier this month in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

A new Franklin and Marshall College poll shows that Santorum has even gained ground in his home state of Pennsylvania, where his favorability rating among Republicans has risen from 46 percent in January to 63 percent. Santorum has a nearly 30-point lead over Romney among Republicans in Pennsylvania.

At the same time, the poll puts some pressure on Santorum to prove he can live up to his argument that he's an electable candidate. In a head-to-head match up with President Obama, Santorum trails by eight points, 45 percent to 37 percent, the poll shows -- even though Pennsylvania is his home state. Romney also trails by eight points in a match up with Mr. Obama, with Mr. Obama taking 41 percent and Romney taking 33 percent.

Santorum has tried to cast himself as an economic populist who can appeal to working class, social conservatives -- a segment of voters once referred to as "Reagan Democrats" who could help the GOP nominee in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania or Indiana.

Santorum seems to be convincing some of the GOP establishment that he's electable. Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama is endorsing Santorum, the campaign announced Friday, giving the candidate his first congressional endorsement from outside of Pennsylvania.

Aderholt is the fourth House Republican to endorse Santorum, while Romney has 78 lawmakers backing him.

Comments