Huffpost Politics

New Hampshire Primary 2012: Rick Santorum Seeks To Emerge As Alternative To Mitt Romney

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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he'll be pleased if he finishes in the middle of the pack in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, but adds that he "might sneak up on some people."

The former Pennsylvania senator tells Fox News Channel a third-, fourth- or fifth-place finish would be proof that he's "climbed up and reached the pack." And he says he's proud he did it "without spending a dime on broadcast TV" ads in New Hampshire.

Instead of buying airtime, Santorum was spending the morning of primary day giving interviews to cable TV and radio programs. After the media blitz, he was planning to visit polling places for some last-minute, face-to-face campaigning.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is hoping to emerge as the leading conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney after the wrap-up of voting in New Hampshire.

The former Pennsylvania senator is preparing for a busy day of visits to polling places and non-stop media interviews Tuesday. He hasn't bought advertising in the state and is instead relying on a constant stream of TV appearances to put himself before voters. He was slated for appearances on cable programs and radio shows before visiting polling places to do some last-minute, face-to-face campaigning.

"We're not asking much. Our founders gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor," Santorum said at a primary eve rally. "I'm asking you for 24 hours of effort to pull off a huge surprise here in New Hampshire to give us the boost to show that the momentum is continuing so we can go down to South Carolina, kick a little butt down in South Carolina, go down to Florida and keep kicking until we have a strong, principled conservative in the model of Ronald Reagan."

Santorum said Republicans don't have to settle for someone who doesn't share their values.

"We're going to vote for the real conservative because we know the real conservative can win this race and change this country," he said.

Santorum's fundraising didn't pick up until after his strong second-place finish in Iowa, and his advisers decided against spending money here on the air. In Iowa, he spent just $30,000 on ads to finish just eight votes behind the former Massachusetts governor.

"Given the fact that we're not running any media up here and that we've really only spent five days in the last month here, second place would be a dream come true," Santorum said Monday, looking to manage expectations.

The key, he said, was emerging as "the strong alternative to Gov. Romney and continuing to build off that momentum."

Late Monday, Santorum sharpened his criticism of Romney and urged voters not to settle on the former Massachusetts governor simply because "it is his time." He cited other candidates who captured the GOP's nomination only to lose: Gerald Ford, Bob Dole and John McCain. They have been described as moderates by many in the more conservative wing of the party.

"We win elections when our people are excited about who to vote for," Santorum said.

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