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In Illinois, Santorum battles for voters -- and money

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses an election night party in Steubenville, Ohio, March 6, 2012. A lack of campaign cash could cost him in Illinois' primary next week.

Tess Vigeland: Think of a presidential campaign as a long-distance race -- to cross the finish line, you have to have experience, true grit and a really good strategy. Oh, and lots of money.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is facing the Illinois primary next week. And while he may have plenty of grit, the strategy part may be an issue. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the story.


Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Say you’re Rick Santorum. You’re badly outspent by Mitt Romney. You live election to election. You don’t have the staff to plan ahead. In politics? That’s deadly.

Alex Vogel: The advantage the Romney campaign has is, they can look and play two and three states ahead.

Republican strategist Alex Vogel.

Vogel: If you’re Santorum, you’re in much more of a hand-to-mouth. You have to dedicate your resources to the next state.

So now, Santorum is focused on Tuesday’s primary in Illinois, where it’ll be hard for him to compete for some delegates because he didn’t have the money for ground troops to file the necessary paperwork in some congressional districts. Those campaign staffers also coordinate volunteers, and help get supporters to the polls on election day.

Mike DuHaime was Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign manager.

Mike DuHaime: If the other side has a ground organization and you don’t, you’ll probably be at a disadvantage of two or three points on election day.

And you’re at an even bigger disadvantage if you don’t have money for campaign ads. This is a big problem for Santorum, says Davidson College political scientist Josh Putnam.

Josh Putnam: It looks like Romney’s outspending him on advertising alone about 8-1.

Santorum is trying to turn Romney’s negative ads against him with ads of his own, like this:

Santorum campaign commercial: Mitt Romney’s negative attack machine is back.

Santorum wants to make his lack of campaign cash a virtue, touting his underdog status. But he’ll still need money to get that message out.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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