Rick Santorum Focused On 'Non-binding' Primary in Missouri

In Romney's cross hairs, Santorum focuses on winning favor in Missouri "beauty contest."

By SHARE

Tomorrow's primary in Missouri is the staging ground for Rick Santorum's latest campaign message—that he is the real conservative alternative to Mitt Romney and that he is the person who can best compete with Barack Obama.

A win in Missouri would be absolutely crucial in keeping Santorum's campaign afloat. His chances look good there because Newt Gingrich—whose campaign has been plagued by logistical missteps such as failing to get on the ballot in Virginia—decided not to sign up for tomorrow's primary.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Unfortunately for Santorum, tomorrow's primary in Missouri, which is being described as a "beauty contest," is not worth any delegates. Through some political back and forth that included party laws regarding primaries before Super Tuesday and a gubernatorial veto, Missouri was left in a perilous position, risking the loss of their delegates if they didn't push their nominating contest back. In the end, the state's Republican Party decided to hold a non-binding primary tomorrow and caucuses on March 17 that will decide who receives the state's delegates.

Still, a win in the ceremonial primary tomorrow can't hurt Santorum.

[Minnesota Caucuses Could Spell Trouble For Romney.]

John Brabender, Santorum's top strategist, says that even though Missouri's delegates won't be awarded tomorrow, the former Senator is putting up a fight for tomorrow's primary.

"It's a state that matters. It's going to be a battleground state in the Fall," Brabender says. "And I think that anybody who feels that they should be able to compete should be able to show up in Missouri and see what happens."

Santorum's campaign is showing signs of health. Mitt Romney's campaign is moving away from attacking Newt Gingrich and is hitting Santorum, suggesting that Romney sees the former senator as a real threat. In Rasmussen's latest tracking poll, Rick Santorum is the only GOP candidate who leads President Obama in head-to-head contests.

[Team Romney Bashes Rick Santorum on Earmarks.]

Brabender thinks that tomorrow's contest in Missouri—by all appearances a massive public opinion poll—is still important to Santorum's campaign.

"If we can show some strong opposition to [Romney] in some of the states tomorrow, if we can show that we look better than Gingrich, then I believe that we can prove ourselves to be the alternative to Romney," he says.

  • Rick Santorum Doesn't Qualify for Indiana Ballot.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican party.
  • Upper Deck to Release Presidential Trading Cards.