Relaxed and upbeat, Sen. Santorum is hopeful about Super Tuesday, while looking ahead to Texas and Pennsylvania
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Published: 05-Mar-2012

Relaxed and upbeat after speaking over the noise from a raucous group of demonstrators, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, talked with a trio of reporters in Oklahoma City after his Sunday, March 4 campaign rally.  

He walked to his vehicle from the north side of the state Capitol, after first shaking hands with hundreds of supporters who had stayed to meet him after a 40-minute speech. 

Santorum said he was hopeful about victory in Oklahoma and Ohio in the Tuesday (March 6) Super Tuesday primaries. In all, 419 Republican National Convention delegates will be apportioned after the primary and caucus day known as “Super Tuesday.” 

In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Santorum said a win in three states would be “terrific; four would be super.” He added he was hopeful of finishing second in most of the states he does not win. 

Santorum added, “After Tuesday, the map starts looking better for us. We have Pennsylvania and Texas, two states where we should do well. Texas is winner take-all. I think we have an excellent opportunity to win Texas. 

“There [are] a lot of delegates out there that we can wrap up in the future. That puts us in position to win this thing, hopefully to narrow it between now and then.”

Santorum addressed a crowd of 350 or more supporters, an enthusiastic group that agreed with his criticisms (and promises to repeal) the federal health care widely dubbed “ObamaCare.”

A group of a dozen demonstrators disrupted the first half of Santorum’s speech with a “mic check” -- the prelude to a verbal attack on the candidate. The group tore Santorum signs, screamed at him as he gave his speech, and denounced his views repeatedly. After about 20 minutes, Capitol police met quietly with the demonstrators and encouraged them to leave, which they did. 

Santorum was relaxed in his conversation with CapitolBeatOK, The Oklahoman and Red Dirt Report. He reflected on the screaming protestors, “That happens when you have public events like this. You know, we had it happen in Tacoma. Of course, that’s what the press will write about. They like to write about those things. 

“You know, when you have open and public events, as we do, you are going to take that chance. We try to make ourselves available to the public. When you do that you are going to have some times when you have protestors.”

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, an Oklahoma City Republican, introduced the former Pennsylvania senator at the rally, at one point recalling Santorum’s vigor in defending the U.S. against “radical Islam” in an appearance at the University of Oklahoma in Norman several years ago. Santorum remembered, “Mike Reynolds was talking about that event I did in Norman some five or six years ago I think it was.  Gosh, here were all sorts of protestors. It was very hostile. I never expected that in Oklahoma.”

As for Sunday’s demonstrators, known as activists with “Occupy OKC,” Santorum said, “It’s like any place else. You have elements in the community who disagree. I respect what’s going on in the community. You know, they said their piece and then they left. That’s what it’s all about. 

“They didn’t disrupt too much. They did stop me from introducing my family right away I didn’t want to introduce them while they were screaming at me. “

He introduced his wife, Karen, and three of his children after the protestors’ departure. As he lingered to meet supporters, he talked with pro-Israel activists and several Republican officials who said they planned to support him in the primary. 

After the hand-shaking, Rep. Reynolds led a small group, including Reps. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City and Dennis Johnson of Duncan, in a quiet moment of prayer near the north door of the Capitol. 

Rep. Kern’s husband, Rev. Steve Kern of Oklahoma City’s Olivet Baptist Church, had prayed fervently for Santorum at the start of the rally, joking with the crowd about the significance of a Baptist minister praying for a Catholic politician. 

When the speech was over, ending his stroll with the reporters, Santorum stopped at his motorcade on the east side of the Capitol. Soon, he would head on to an evening event at a church in Tulsa.

He waved to a group of about two dozens backers who had gathered about 30 yards away to get another look at him and cheer him on. They applauded as he waved at them and shouted back, “Thank you!” A woman hollered back, “Game on!” Another shouted, “We love you, Rick.” 

CapitolBeatOK asked the Pennsylvanian what he is looking for in a vice presidential running mate. He replied, “Someone who can do, can execute what I’ve promised the American public I would do.” 

Note: A brief video, including part of the conversation with Sen. Santorum, can be viewed here.

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