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Santorum Moves Fuel Predictions He Will Exit Race

By , Boston Globe - April 7, 2012

BONNEAUVILLE, Pa. - Rick Santorum's campaign insisted Friday the former Pennsylvania senator is still in the race despite mounting pressure even from voters in his home state that he pull out before the Keystone State's primary April 24.

But Santorum has scheduled no public events over the holiday weekend and has made no major media buys, fueling speculation that he might quit. Polling in Pennsylvania that shows him slipping against front-runner Mitt Romney raises the prospect of an embarrassing home-state loss that could hurt his chances if he were to make a run for the nomination in 2016.

A Santorum campaign spokesman said the candidate had a busy slate of events scheduled for next week and promised that a list would be released soon.

The question of Santorum's continuation in the race was front and center at a gathering here of Adams County Republicans Thursday night.

Ken Wingert, a township supervisor and Romney backer, made a bold assertion: By the time Pennsylvania voters go to the polls, only the former Massachusetts governor will be left on the presidential ballot.

"The deal is done,'' Wingert proclaimed, suggesting that Santorum has no chance of winning the GOP's presidential nomination and should bow out before the primary to clear the path for Romney.

There were no gasps from those assembled, no accusations of treason against a native son. Santorum, who served two terms representing this state in the US Senate, is hardly a favored son in some quarters of his own state.

Polls indicate Pennsylvanians are just as torn about Santorum today as they were six years ago, when he failed in his reelection bid for a third term, losing to Democrat Bob Casey by 18 points, the widest margin anyone can remember.

Romney is campaigning hard in Pennsylvania, and when Election Day rolls around Santorum's home-field advantage may have evaporated.

"He's already lost Pennsylvania once, why not twice?'' said Tom Parsley, 64, a construction contractor who also thinks Santorum should quit the race. Parsley twice voted for Santorum for the Senate, but could not support his third run. "The way he presented himself was just way too extreme.''

At the GOP gathering here, not far from the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Parsley, who is trying to win a spot as a delegate to the GOP convention, was adamant. A Santorum win would be a blow to Republican efforts to defeat Obama, Parsley said.

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