The Ticket

Rick Santorum appearing more confident as crowds grow in Iowa

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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Santorum (Evan Vucci:AP)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- There was something different about Rick Santorum on Sunday.

As he spoke before a packed downtown coffee shop here on New Year's Day, Santorum displayed a more confident tone and demeanor--a marked change from just a few days ago, when he was considered a hopeless candidate in the state and certainly for the Republican nomination.

"It's great to see such a good turnout," Santorum said, before vowing that he would be back in Iowa "in the fall"-- a not-so-subtle suggestion that he planned to win the party's nomination.

The well-respected Des Moines Register poll of likely Republican caucus-goers put Santorum in third place on Saturday night--his strongest showing yet--while also signaling that he was gaining momentum in the state in the final days before Tuesday's caucuses. With events filled with crowds of supporters and journalists, Santorum comes across as a new man.

Until now, the former Pennsylvania senator has campaigned more as a prophet of doom than a savior of the republic. On the stump, he has tended to discuss his past record in Congress more than how he would change the country as president. But now, with momentum building behind his campaign in the frenetic final 48 hours before the Jan. 3 caucuses, Santorum is talking about the future, not just the past.

Mitt Romney even bothered to knock Santorum on the stump while campaigning in Atlantic, Iowa. The attack wasn't lost on Santorum, who took it as still another sign that he has joined the top tier of the Iowa field.

"I think it shows that we're on the move," Santorum said when he was asked about the Romney attack during a stop in Orange City. "And we're resonating with the people of this state."

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