Santorum: Kansans should ‘speak loudly’ at caucuses

03/09/2012 5:00 AM

03/11/2012 8:37 AM

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke about 40 minutes at a rally Friday afternoon, telling Kansans to send a clear message at caucuses Saturday that they want less government, not more.

“Kansas needs to speak loudly tomorrow,” Santorum said at a rally at Jabara Airport.

Santorum said the country needs less interference from its leaders, fewer taxes and looser regulations.

“We need to have someone take the pedal off bigger government,” Santorum said.

He spoke against the Affordable Healthcare Act, calling it “Obamacare,” and said it’s crucial for Americans to hang on to their liberties.

“This is a game-changer,” he said.

He said he knows his campaign has a long way to go, but he promised “We’re not going anywhere but up and up and up.”

Clearwater resident Sheri Barnett liked what she heard.

She said she is a conservative who has supported Santorum since Day One.

She said she fears Americans are losing their rights and believes Santorum when he says he wants limited government.

Barnett will support Santorum at her first caucus. She said she knows there is concern out there that Santorum can’t beat President Obama, but she said she won’t settle for a “middle-of-the-road” candidate.

The last election, she said, “taught me not to be afraid. We either win on our conviction or we lose.”

The rally was a first for Wichitan Deborah Miller.

“I’m for Rick because he is pro-life,” she said, standing in a makeshift front row to see Santorum when he arrived. “I believe he has backbone and strength. It’s time to replace the current administration we have now.”

Miller’s mother shook her head in agreement but didn’t talk to a reporter, saying “I wouldn’t be any good at this.”

Chandra Murray of Pratt brought a group of girls, including two of her own, ranging from age 9 to 14.

“He stands for the constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights,” Murray said. “That’s important for these kids’ future.”

A giant flag hung behind the stage with a smaller “Made in America” sign in front of it.

Wichita resident Joel Mugglin said he wasn’t sure for a while who he would support but has settled on Santorum because “I think he’s principled. I think he has a positive vision for America of limited government and strength of the individual.”

Mugglin said his support of Santorum has been “gradual.”

Meanwhile, Santorum campaign officials said they were not sending out late-night and early-morning text messages calling for support.

A couple of readers called The Wichita Eagle complaining about receiving text messages at 2 a.m.

Brandon Rudkin, Santorum’s Kansas campaign headquarters director, said the campaign was not sending them.

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