Santorum to speak at Capitol Repubican Caucus meeting in Oklahoma City
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Published: 08-Feb-2012

Tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 9), former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will visit Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Fresh from a dramatic sweep of three states on Tuesday, Santorum traveled on Wednesday to Dallas, Texas to speak to a group of pastors, where he emphasized his social conservatism.

In a statement sent this morning to CapitolBeatOK, Oklahoma state Republican party chairman Matt Pinnell said, "We are thrilled to welcome another Presidential candidate to the Reddest State in the Country. If you can win Oklahoma, you can win the conservative vote nationwide. We welcome our Republican candidates to Oklahoma over the coming weeks as they compete to win our ‘Reddest State’ primary."
 
Santorum is appearing at a meeting of the Capitol Republican Caucus. The meeting is being held at 9 a.m. at H&H Shooting Sports Complex (400 S Vermont Ave) in Oklahoma City. Santorum planned to travel to Tulsa later in the day 

According to Politico.com, Santorum said in a Dallas meeting, “A few years after I started getting involved in the pro-life issue, my children, when they would read the paper, used to think my first name was ‘ultra.’ You could be the most conservative person ever, you can vote against everything, you can vote for no government, and you’re fine. But once you speak out on the moral issues, you now have your head above and out of the trench and you are going to be shot at.”
 
Santorum won the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses this week, as well as the non-binding Missouri primary. His winning margins ranged from 55 percent in the Show Me State, to 45 percent in Minnesota and 40 percent in Colorado. 

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was a close second in the Rocky Mountain State (with 35 percent), a distant second in Missouri (25 percent) and a distant third in Minnesota (17 percent). 

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was second in Minnesota (with 27 percent), but trailed badly with only 12 percent in both Missouri and Colorado. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot in Missouri, while garnering 13 percent in Colorado and 11 percent in Minnesota. 

Santorum is the second upper tier Republican candidate to visit Oklahoma since the fall. Romney came for a party fundraising event in October. Pinnell said he anticipated a visit from Gingrich, and perhaps from Rep. Paul, who has a passionate cadre of supporters.

Santorum won the Iowa caucus in January, until Tuesday his best showing of the 2012 campaign. In subsequent contests, he had trailed both Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Gingrich.

Although a multi-issue conservative who has emphasized his economic policy views through most of the campaign, Santorum is best known as a passionate social conservative. 

Despite the challenges he has faced, Santorum is, with Romney and Gingrich, one of only three hopefuls actually to win a Republican contest this year. (He appeared to have lost Iowa to Romney, but a Republican party recount several days after the caucus reversed the outcome and awarded him a narrow victory there.) 

In the March 6 primary here, a 15 percent threshold is needed for delegates in the Sooner State. Each of the remaining hopefuls – Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas – are regarded, presently at least, as strong enough to reach that level if the primary vote were held today. 

In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Pinnell said the Santorum visit was another sign that Oklahoma’s primary is going to remain relevant in the GOP nominating process. While stressing that Gingrich had appeal to many Oklahoma Republicans, Pinnell speculated just before the votes were cast on Tuesday that Santorum might “jump past Gingrich.” 

Concerning the “reddest state” designation (a reference to the fact that John McCain won all 77 counties in his race against Barack Obama in 2008), Pinnell reflected, “I’d rather be me than Wallace Collins (Oklahoma’s Democratic party chairman).” 

Pinnell said President Obama’s decisions on several issues are solidifying Oklahoma’s conservative inclinations, including the “kill” of the Keystone Oil pipeline project, and the administration mandate that religious groups provide coverage of abortafacients and contraceptive services under the health care law.

Nationally, Pinnell asserts Republicans will win in November despite the spirited primary season. He observed, “The president is not leading on the key issues of our time. We’re not better off than we were four years ago. He is a president who was not prepared for the job. We can’t afford to keep him in the job after the next election.” 

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