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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Santorum's history in Pennsylvania explains challenges of his 2012 campaign



Rick Santorum scrapped his way out of the basement of the Republican presidential primary by forcefully arguing he is a pure conservative with a record of defeating Democrats. Having demonstrated this prowess in a swing state like Pennsylvania, he says, shows he can win in November.

But there's the minor detail of Santorum's 2006 U.S. Senate re-election race.

He lost by 18 points.

Even after clearing away the caveats — he refused to back down from support for the Iraq war and his Democratic opponent had a legendary surname — the landslide still rings loudly in Pennsylvania and undermines the central argument of Santorum's campaign.

"I wrote him off," said Joe Horton, 42, a psychology professor at Grove City College, a Christian school 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. "There were fresher faces. But he's shown tenaciousness. Super Tuesday will tell a lot."

A review of Santorum's record and conversations with Pennsylvania voters explains how he got this far, a doggedness first noticed on the high school basketball court, and why he may not go much farther.

Story here.

[Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 9:50am]


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