Santorum Appeals To Religious Conservatives In Ohio

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum's had a final full day of campaigning on Ohio on Monday ahead of Super Tuesday. Ohio is one of ten states holding Republican nominating contests on Tuesday and Santorum is locked in a tight battle with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

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DON GONYEA, BYLINE: And this is Don Gonyea, following the Santorum campaign, also in Ohio, where the day started with a rally at the Dayton Christian School in the town of Miamisburg. Linda Ball(ph) was there with her son, a junior in high school. She's voting for Santorum.

LINDA BALL: I believe he's a good, solid Christian man with great morals for our country, and I think he'll steer our country in the right direction.

GONYEA: That was a common answer in this crowd of several hundred. After all, this is a religious school. And it's in the southern part of the state, where conservative Christian voters dominate the Republican Party.

When the candidate arrived, he seemed ready to deliver a speech steeped in faith and values, as he has done often this campaign. Santorum opened by talking about the small town in southwestern Pennsylvania where he grew up.

(SOUNDBITE OF STUMP SPEECH)

RICK SANTORUM: It was a mill town, and it was a town where those values meant something. We saluted the flag and were proud of it. When the word, under God, came into that pledge of allegiance, we said it louder than the other parts, and we were proud of that.

GONYEA: But this speech, which lasted 40 minutes, had only a handful of such moments. Mostly, Santorum talked about bringing manufacturing jobs back to Ohio, by slashing corporate taxes. And he criticized President Obama on domestic and foreign policy.

But his lengthiest attack was directed at Mitt Romney. Santorum said Romney not only signed his own health-care bill in Massachusetts, but that he recommended that the Obama White House do the same thing nationally, including in a 2009 opinion piece in USA Today.

(SOUNDBITE OF STUMP SPEECH)

SANTORUM: Here's the worst part about this - is that Governor Romney repeatedly, throughout the course of this campaign, said he never did that. And yet, we find example after example where in fact, he did do those things. You see that - one of the most basic issues in this campaign is trust.

GONYEA: Santorum described himself as the candidate who wasn't even supposed to make it to Ohio, but here he is. He asked voters to defy the establishment and the pundits, and give him a victory in the state tomorrow.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Dayton.

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