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Santorum Draws Media Throng in Iowa Santorum Draws Media Throng in Iowa

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field

CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Draws Media Throng in Iowa

After months of having one or two reporters follow him, he draws 70 at an event in Ames.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is surrounded by media after arriving at a campaign stop Friday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Ames, Iowa.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

AMES, Iowa -- This is what it feels like to be in third place in Iowa just days from the Jan. 3 caucus: When Rick Santorum walked into a Buffalo Wild Wings for a campaign event on Friday, a mob of about 100 reporters, photographers, and cameramen was awaiting him.

Iowans gathered there to watch the Iowa State-Rutgers football game were less than thrilled. Neither was restaurant management who, hard as they tried, couldn't prevent the media scrum from scaring away a few patrons. A slightly bemused Santorum politely answered questions for an hour as the entourage followed him through the restaurant.

 

"I'm actually trying to watch the game," he said when he sat down at a table of supporters, expressing a desire to order a beer and some wings.

"I'm a little bit surprised at the scale of turnout here," Santorum added, still grinning. "We apologize to everybody here!"

The scene was a far cry from most of this election cycle, Santorum said, when a lone reporter –- two on a good day -- followed him across Iowa as he visited all 99 counties. For much of the last several months, he has languished at the bottom of the polls and is only recently experiencing a boomlet as his fellow contenders for the socially conservative vote have self-destructed. The latest CNN/Time/ORC poll had Santorum registering 16 percent support in Iowa, up from 5 percent in early December.

 

"It's a very different scene here," he said. "We've been out here for a long time, working very hard."

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