Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Santorum Is Right at Home with Voter Give-and-Take

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Santorum Is Right at Home with Voter Give-and-Take

Article excerpt

WINDHAM, N.H. -- Rick Santorum and his conservative Republican views faced some of the political extremes of New Hampshire on Thursday, ranging from the cold catcalls of a college crowd to the warm applause of residents attending a town hall meeting leading up to Tuesday's presidential primary.

Mr. Santorum, who served Pennsylvania for 16 years in Congress, is suddenly working under the intense glare of a national campaign in which he surprised many by almost winning this week's Iowa caucuses.

Making the rounds in preparation for New Hampshire's signature first-in-the-nation primary, he appeared on morning radio shows and at noontime lunch counters before an afternoon speech at the College Convention in Concord, N.H.

Challenged for his conservative positions on same-sex marriage, drug laws and abortion, Mr. Santorum stated his views and expressed a willingness to engage. Some of the students, however, booed, groaned and shouted at him.

A Tuesday evening town hall meeting attended by more than 600 people in a high school auditorium, however, progressed much more smoothly. The event began with endorsements from two local politicians.

"He asked me six months ago and I told him, 'I gotta wait,' said state Sen. Jim Luther, a Republican who represents Nashua. "And what I love about Rick is he wanted to earn our endorsements. I said I need to see a few more percentage points and here he is. He is in a great place."

Shannon McGinley, who heads a local conservative group, said, "I wanted to see how it played out with the other candidates. You know, kind of kick the tires like we do here in New Hampshire. See him tested. And I've come to realize that he is the true Reagan conservative. He is the one."

Wearing an open-collared blue shirt, khaki pants and cowboy boots, Mr. Santorum spoke for 15 minutes, then spent an hour answering more than a dozen questions from residents.

He exhibited a casual sense of comfort as he leaned on a podium while engaging in the back-and-forth with the potential voters.

"We have to do more than just defeat [President Barack] Obama," he said. "We have to have a victory that will get things done. …

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