Wealthy Santorum backer pledges continued support

CBS

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's path forward this presidential race is a little unclear, but the one constant in his bid is Foster Friess, who promises to carry him beyond the Florida primary.

Friess, a wealthy businessman, created the Red, White and Blue Fund, a super PAC supporting Santorum. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the fund has spent almost $2 million this election cycle to help elect Santorum.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Friess said "I'm committed to Rick Santorum, and I'm going to be giving more to Rick Santorum."

New campaign finance rules allow unlimited contributions to outside groups, often known as super PACs. Super PACs are allowed to spend on advertising to help a candidate, but are legally barred from coordinating with the campaign.

A born-again Christian, Freiss has a history of donating large sums of money to conservative causes that promote small government, privatizing education and religious-based charities.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Friess said Santorum "will be the frontrunner soon."

"Everybody likes him. His Iowa experience should speak loud and clear," Friess told Bloomberg. "He went to 381 different townhall meetings. People really relate to him. He has a love for the blue-collar guy. He was one of the only ones who would be able to defeat a Democratic candidate."

But planning and implementing a successful strategy to make Santorum the front-runner is more difficult than writing a check. Santorum's efforts in Florida are receiving little traction and questions have been raised about the future of his Florida campaign. Hotsheet reported earlier today that he is undecided how long he will stay there ahead of Tuesday's primary. But Santorum told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Friday afternoon that he will stay in the state through Sunday.

"We just weren't going to go out and spend every dime" in Florida, he said.

Florida is a difficult state to campaign. Door-to-door retail politics aren't as effective as they are in Iowa and New Hampshire because of Florida's large geography and population. Furthermore, it's expensive. The Sunshine state has ten large media markets, including some of the largest ones in the country.

Santorum attempted to make a strong play against leaders Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the state (where the winner receives all the delegates), but with little success. Santorum is battling with polling numbers near the single digits.

Santorum has spent a precious five days in the state trying to make a dent with voters, instead laying the groundwork in states where he has a better chance, which is something Rep. Ron Paul is doing.

Friess recognizes the challenges of Florida. He said he will continue to support Santorum, but not likely in Florida. "It's just a matter of when and how much," he told the Wall Street Journal.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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