Facing long odds and an aerial ad bombardment from frontrunner Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans to resume campaigning Tuesday in his home state of Pennsylvania, according to a schedule of events released Saturday morning.
The Santorum campaign trail next week will run along US 30, the iconic Lincoln Highway that spans the state. He is to begin Tuesday morning with a rally at a sportsmen’s club in Bedford, Pa., continuing to an evening appearance at Lancaster Bible College along with religious right leader James Dobson and the candidate’s wife, Karen.
On Wednesday, Santorum is scheduled to be in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, at a “Red Meat” tour event hosted by WPHT-AM conservative talker Chris Stigall. The former senator will attend the Westmoreland County GOP spring dinner in Greensburg, PA.
Meanwhile, Romney forces have purchased $2.9 million worth of television time to run three weeks of commercials in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Erie, Altoona/Johnstown and Philadelphia media markets starting on Monday – according to a scoop by Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Romney adds also will begin running within a week in the Pittsburgh market, Zito reported. Already the super PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, has been running cable television ads in Pennsylvania.
The Romney campaign and its backers had been debating whether to go all-in with advertising in Pennsylvania in hopes of delivering a knockout to Santorum in the state’s April 24 GOP primary, or whether it would be better to husband resources for the general election.
Romney has a virtually insurmountable lead in the delegates needed to win the nomination at the GOP convention in Tampa in August, and Santorum is facing pressure from GOP leaders to drop out of the race to avoid damaging the party chances in the fall. Those who have spoken with Santorum say is not going to quit; his campaign strategists hope that a victory in Pennsylvania will give momentum to continue fighting in a series of southern states in May that have demographics favorable to Santorum. The notion: block Romney from getting the 1,144 majority in delegates needed and force an open convention.
The Santorum schedule for next week is much thinner than his grueling series of events in recent primary states, leading to buzz in GOP circles that he may indeed drop out. On Friday, the schedule says, Santorum is to address the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis.