Politics
              Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, is surrounded by media in the "spin room" after the Republican presidential debate on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 in Manchester, N.H.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, is surrounded by media in the "spin room" after the Republican presidential debate on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  

Santorum on 2006 loss: ‘I have no doubt that we’ll be able to win in Pennsylvania’

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addressed Saturday night one of the most nagging concerns about his presidential candidacy: his 2006 Senate re-election loss.

Bob Casey, Jr. trounced Santorum by over 17 points in the GOP presidential contender’s Senate re-election bid in 2006. The loss undermines one of Santorum’s essential appeals on the campaign trail — that he can win in Democratic states like Pennsylvania. Making an appearance in the spin room after the ABC News–Yahoo! News Republican primary debate, Santorum said his loss must be understood in the context that “ it was the worst election year in the history of Pennsylvania Republicans.”

“Look at it this way: 2006, guys who are up running this time for the Senate, we lost 23 of 33 races nationwide. So it was a bad year for Republicans generally,” he said.

“We lost five congressional districts [in Pennsylvania], we lost the governorship by twenty-some points.”

Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate as result of the 2006 midterm elections.

Asked what makes him think he can do better running for president than he did in 2006, Santorum replied that “it’s a heck of a lot better election year.”

“You know, two years ago in Pennsylvania, that governorship we lost by 20 we won by 10,” he said.

“It’s a very different environment in Pennsylvania. We feel very, very good that we can go to Pennsylvania and win. I have no doubt that we’ll be able to win in Pennsylvania with the record and the vision we have for this country.”

Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes up for grabs in 2012, has not gone to a Republican presidential contender since President George H.W. Bush won the state in 1988.

Asked by a reporter why he didn’t attack the front-runner — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — as much as he attacked Texas Rep. Ron Paul during the debate, Santorum maintained he “did attack Romney.”

“I repeatedly attacked Romney. I’m sort of surprised that people think I didn’t,” he said.

“The issue of health care, unfortunately, did not come up during the course of this debate, but I brought it up as a differentiator between the two of us. I talked about cap and trade, I talked about the differences between Gov. Romney and myself on the big bank bailout, and talked about how I am the stronger conservative candidate.”

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