Politics

Santorum unconcerned with unfavorable polls

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said on Fox News today that his path to the presidency lay in building momentum by winning the early states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and that he wasn’t worried about his low performance in national polls.

“We are doing great in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Santorum told Neil Cavuto.

“We just are focusing – I am here in New Hampshire today, my 20th visit to New Hampshire; Iowa yesterday, 17th or 18th visit to Iowa. We are working, and I will be in South Carolina next week. That is what will determine who the field is going to be,” he said of his strategy.

Santorum pointed to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll released Sunday that has him in fourth place, pulling 9 percent of the vote among registered voters on a trial ballot that consisted of Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty. In that configuration, Santorum actually polled more than Gingrich or Pawlenty.

The former Pennsylvania senator said that given his strategy of focusing entirely on the early states, “I was surprised to see a national poll that had our numbers as good as they are.”

It should be noted that on the trial ballot that NBC/WSJ initially ran, which includes Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman, Santorum polls only 4 percent of the vote among registered voters, putting him in a seventh place tie with Tim Pawlenty. (UP FRONT: Poll: Romney still leading the pack)

Recent polling from early states shows Santorum still near the bottom of the pack. A CNN/WMUR poll from May 23 had Santorum with only 2 percent of the vote from likely NH GOP primary voters.

A poll of 319 Iowa Republicans conducted by Neighborhood Research in early April found Santorum with only 1.3 percent of the vote.

In the interview, Santorum reiterated his support for the Ryan Plan on Medicare, saying that it was a “good first step,” but that even greater reforms of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – which the Ryan Budget does not address – were necessary.

On the economy, he said that he would take a different approach than the one Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed, of lowering the highest tax rate 25 percent.

“As you know,” said Santorum, “the best way to make up this deficit is to have a strong economy, revenues go up, and spending goes down. But you have to have enough taxes so you can raise that money.” (APOLOGIZE: Gingrich demands apology, says wife is being treated like Nancy Reagan)

Santorum said that he would put forward an economic plan in the next few weeks that would focus more on the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, and that while “there will be some eye opening tax cuts…they will be done in a way that makes sure we still get the revenue necessary to fund the government.”

“We are trying to target revenues around 17 percent or 18 percent of GDP, maybe as high as 19 percent if it’s really cooking, and we will need that. We are talking about getting spending to that level with the suggestions I have made on the entitlement side. You cannot go out and say we need entitlement spending and other spending down to 18 percent or 19 percent of GDP, which is historic, and come in with revenue of 15 percent. That does not make sense. We need revenue numbers that make sense for a balanced budget,” Santorum said.