Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was the first candidate to address the straw poll crowd inside the Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University Saturday, entering to the skirl of bagpipes (nice Braveheart touch) and accompanied by a column of sign-waving supporters.
He took the stage with his wife, Karen, and five of their children, who spent the past three weeks touring Iowa with him.
“How many people here got calls from one of my kids?” Santorum said, and a fair number of the crowd applauded.
Santorum is competing in the Iowa straw poll, a state party fundraiser/political festival/circus/test of campaign strength. He has been lagging behind candidates with more star wattage and money in some polls, but is counting on doing better than expected in the straw poll to keep his presidential campaign going.