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Video: Santorum Vows to Continue Campaign—And Win Pennsylvania Primary

After losing the Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Republican primaries to Mitt Romney, Santorum speaks to supporters in the Cranberry area.

After losing the Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. primaries to Mitt Romney, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum looked to the future as he addressed the crowd gathered Tuesday for an election party in the Cranberry area.

Repeatedly telling supporters they “know him,” the former U.S. senator, who grew up about 22 miles away in Butler, vowed to continue his campaign and to win his home state of Pennsylvania in the April 24 primary.

“We’re hitting the field. The clock starts tonight,” he said. “We’ve got three weeks to go out here in Pennsylvania and win this state, and after winning this state, the field looks a little different in May.”

Romney's wins Tuesday put him past the halfway mark to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. According to CNN estimates, it also will increase the lead the former Massachusetts governor holds over other GOP presidential candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Speaking from a podium at the Four Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh North hotel, Santorum—who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate from 1995 to 2007—emphasized his “Steel Town” roots. He spoke of growing up in Butler as the son of immigrant parents and of his grandfather, who worked in the region's coal mines.

He also noted his pleasure in returning to southwestern Pennsylvania.

“I understand the greatness of the people in this state, and I understand how important this race is here in Pennsylvania,” he said. “This is called the Keystone State for a reason. We are, in fact, the Keystone.”

Joined on stage by his wife and children, Santorum did not mention Romney in his speech to supporters. He told them that Americans need a leader who is able to stand strong without making concessions in the face of government-controlled health care.

Santorum also recalled Ronald Reagan’s defeat in 1976, when he lost the Republican nomination amid complaints of being too moderate, before going on to win the Republican nomination and the presidency in 1981.

“If we’re going to win this race, we can’t have little differences between our nominees and President Obama,” he said. “We have to have clear, contrasting colors.”

Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said the former senator would focus now on winning the Pennsylvania primary.

“He knows the area, he knows the people, he can talk their language,” Gidley said. “But, I mean, that’s been pretty much the theme across the country. People relate to Rick."

Santorum’s stop in the Cranberry area drew hundreds of people from across the greater Pittsburgh area and beyond. Patty Cermak said she and her son, Josiah Cermak, made the two-hour drive from Erie to attend Tuesday’s event..

Josiah Cermack said he also drove to Steubenville, OH, in March because Santorum was awaiting Super Tuesday results in that city. He said Santorum signed a copy of his book, It Takes a Family, for him then.

Cermack said he supports Santorum’s stands on social issues, including opposition to same-sex marriage, birth control and abortion.

“Especially the social issues,” Cermak said with emphasis.

Toting a Santorum sign, Bob Messenger, of Beaver, said he admires the former senator's approach to foreign affairs and the economy. He said he does not believe Santorum is defined solely by stances on social issues.

"I think he's the only true conservative in the running," Messenger said.

Tom Murray, of Jackson Township, said he attended Tuesday’s primary party because he worked with Santorum’s father, Aldo Santorum, in the 1970s at the Mental Health Association of Butler County. At the time, Murray said he sat on the association’s board of directors and Aldo Santorum was the head psychologist.

Murray said he remembers Santorum as a teen and has been a longtime supporter of his political career.

“His father was a very strong person,” he said. “I can see where he got that from.”

As he continues campaigning across Pennsylvania, Santorum will be in Hollidaysburg Wednesday for a "Rally for Rick" at the Blair County Courthouse.

He already has jumped ahead of Romney in the Keystone state. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, Santorum is leading Romney, 41 to 35 percent, among likely voters in Pennsylvania's Republican presidential primary.

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