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Santorum: Game On or Over? The GOP Race, Smart Talk TV, Tonight. 8 PM, witf TV

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | Jan 11, 2012 5:00 PM

Despite a fifth-place finish in the Granite State, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum takes his fight for the GOP presidential nomination to South Carolina.  What are his chances and what is his message?  We'll delve more deeply into Santorum's candidacy and size up the GOP field on Smart Talk, tonight at 8 on witf TV.

Our guests include Dr. G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at F&M, Laura Olson, statehouse reporter for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Matt Belanger, government reporter for WGAL News 8, and John Micek, statehouse reporter for The Morning Call of Allentown.  Olson and Belanger have spent time in South Carolina and New Hampshire covering Santorum and the other GOP contenders and will offer fresh insights from the campaign trail.  You can read Dr. Madonna's latest piece on Rick Santorum here.

Santorum, having finished a very respectable third in the Iowa caucuses, was hoping for a better showing in New Hampshire.  That didn't pan out. Now, he's counting on Palmetto State Republicans to embrace his fiery brand of social conservatism.  As The Fix, the Washington Post's political team, culled from the New Hampshire polling data, Santorum could have a tough time earning their votes.  In an email, The Fix wrote, "Santorum won 26 percent of those describing themselves as "very conservative" and just 5 percent of moderate-to-liberal voters. He won 23 percent of born-again Christians but only 6 percent of non-born agains.

"Less than a quarter of voters identified themselves as born-again (also known as evangelicals), reflecting a much smaller pool than in Iowa.  Santorum is close to being written off as a niche candidate. His niche is pretty big in some states — i.e. Iowa — but unlike Romney, he hasn't shown an ability to appeal to disparate sections of the party.  Case-in-point: Romney actually beat Santorum among "very conservative" voters on Tuesday, 33 percent to 26 percent."

We would love to hear your thoughts on Santorum's candidacy and which contenders you prefer on the GOP side.  Call in live at 8 tonight to 1-800-729-7532, post a comment at the bottom of this article or to our Facebook page, or send an email to smarttalk@witf.org.  Be sure to join the conversation!

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