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Santorum Plants Flag in SC, Thinks He Can Win State’s Primary

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Rick Santorum returned to South Carolina on Sunday -- two days before New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary -- to send a signal to voters that he’s competing in the Granite State, but it’s in South Carolina that he thinks he can win.

“Here in South Carolina, it’s game on,” he told Republicans at the Greenville Republican Party Fundraising Dinner Sunday evening, repeating his now-famous phrase from his speech after his virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses.

At two stops in Greenville, he contrasted himself with Mitt Romney, who is still at the top of the polls in South Carolina, and asked conservatives in the state to coalesce around him as the non-Romney candidate, telling voters, “South Carolina has to speak clearly.”

“We do not need just a little better than what we have now.  We need big change in Washington, D.C.  You have an opportunity if we rally around,” Santorum said, urging conservatives not to splinter, while referring to Romney without mentioning his name.

“You all have networks of conservatives who are trying to find that right network.  The right candidate that can not only defeat the establishment candidate, the folks that people in New York and Washington and the folks that are putting all this money, the tens and millions of dollars into these super PACS and all this other money that goes to the establishment candidate because they feel comfortable with the establishment.  Well we need something bigger, different,” he said.

Santorum pleaded with the crowd to “go out and start working,” and gave a highly charged pitch to South Carolina voters, telling them it is up to them to “bring us back from the brink” and if they don’t help the former Pennsylvania senator win, then “South Carolina will have let America down.”

“Do not let that happen.  There is only one way to not let that happen and that’s to walk out of here and not just say, ‘Oh, I’ll vote for Rick.’  If you do that you have let down your children and your grandchildren because you are not sacrificing your lives, your fortune and your sacred honor,” Santorum said, repeating a line from the Declaration of Independence.

“We are the candidate the conservative movement needs to rally around … coalesce, don’t divide,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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