Santorum schedule signals ambivalence about Florida

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at the First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. AP

Rick Santorum
AP

MIAMI, Fla. - Caught between a strong debate performance and low poll numbers, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's campaign is struggling over whether to compete in Florida's primary Tuesday. The immediate answer seemed to be no, judging by Santorum's schedule.

On Friday, four days ahead of the primary, Santorum flew to his original home state of Pennsylvania to raise money and hold a media availability. Then he was headed south to his home in Virginia to do his tax returns, which he says he always does himself, in preparation for making them public. He was scheduled to return to Florida on Saturday night.

Greg Rothman, a close friend traveling with Santorum, said Friday that Santorum would certainly depart the state ahead of the Tuesday primary, possibly as early as Monday morning. He said Santorum was considering spending all of Monday in Florida after the positive reaction he received for his performance in Thursday's CNN debate in Jacksonville, Santorum himself told reporters yesterday he will "run every race."

However, Santorum's dwindling campaign funds and low polling numbers tell a different story. Polls of Florida show him trailing way behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in what has become a two-man race.

Foster Friess, a wealthy backer who gave half a million dollars to the Red, White and Blue Fund, the super PAC backing Santorum, told the Wall Street Journal he will still contribute money to help Santorum. But he said he won't do it in time for the Florida primary because he doesn't see a win as realistic. "I'm committed to Rick Santorum, and I'm going to be giving more to Rick Santorum," he told the paper. "It's just a matter of when and how much."

  • Rebecca Kaplan On Twitter»

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

Comments