Santorum campaigns for Iowa G.O.P candidates in Tiffin

BY JOE HITCHON | JULY 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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Rick Santorum campaigned for Iowa candidates and criticized President Obama during a meet-and-greet event Tuesday.

The purpose of the visit was to extend support to Congressional Republican candidates running for election this year and to mobilize his large Iowa base in support of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

"It means a tremendous amount for us to have Sen. Santorum's endorsement, especially considering what he did here in Iowa during the caucuses," said John Archer, the 2nd Congressional District candidate running against Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

Santorum, who built a wide support network throughout the state for his conservative values and for embracing the more religious elements of the Republican Party, spoke at the Bella Sala Reception and Banquet Hall near Tiffin at an event resembling his 99-county campaign tour of Iowa last year.

Santorum shook hands and shared hugs with his former voters while slowly making his way around the hall — a trademark of Santorum's successful campaign strategy in Iowa. And while he was there to thank his supports, he took the visit as an opportunity to take hits at Obama's presidency.

Calling November's election "the most important of our lifetime," Santorum repeatedly referred to Obama as "a dangerous man" and as the "imperial president."

"He is a serial abuser of Constitutional law and the executive powers awarded him," he said. "The size and scale of government has exploded. This is the chilling effect of having a president that disregards the limitations of power allotted by the Constitution … [Obama] is a dangerous man who is not capable effectively or economically to be running this country."

Michael Hunt, the communications director of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Santorum's speech to supporters Tuesday was another example of the reluctance of Republican officials to give support to the Romney campaign.

"Here's the person with the most support among Republicans in the state, and even he is reluctant to support the Republican candidate," he said. "He barely said a word about Romney; he only wants to take shots at the president. That should be seen as surprising."

Santorum's visit to Iowa was sponsored by the Red, White, and Blue Fund, Santorum's political-action committee that served as his super PAC during his primary campaign and now promotes his political endeavors.

Other stops on his 2012 Iowa itinerary include campaign events in Bettendorf and Dubuque on Tuesday and Cedar Falls, Coralville, and Windsor Heights today.

Johnson County Republican Chairman Bob Anderson was encouraged by the visit, and he said the Republican party of Iowa has seen a large increase in the number of Republicans registering to vote statewide.

"In the last five years, we have bounced back from having 100,000 fewer registered voters than the Democrats to having 30,000 more registered voters than Democrats," he said. "We have closed the gap and are expecting a very close election."

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