Politics

Santorum kicks off Pennsylvania campaign on familiar turf

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. -- GOP hopeful Rick Santorum took a surprise trip down memory lane Wednesday, courtesy of a gift given to him by one of his longtime supporters.

Following a campaign rally here with a homecoming theme and a marching band, the former Pennsylvania senator was approached on the rope line by a man holding a picture taken 18 years ago, when Santorum was making his first run for the U.S. Senate.

In it, Santorum is holding a baby boy in his arms.

"That little guy right there is the big tall kid," Santorum said as he looked at the picture of him cradling his son. "That's John, back in 1994, he was all of 2 years old. That's pretty cool."

The gift was handed over by Dale Dilling, one of Santorum's county chairs in 1994.

It comes as Santorum kicks off the campaign to win his home state's primary -- a contest he guarantees he will win and also admits he must.

He will have a lot of work to do. While Santorum has held a solid double-digit lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania over the past few weeks, the latest Real Clear Politics average shows he is now up by just 6 points.

The former senator is banking on his Keystone State beginnings, and some of those same supporters of the past who propelled him to that senate victory back in 1994.

“I’m asking you to help out a person who has some roots in this neck of the woods, someone who’s dad and grandparents were molded in … in the coal mines in the neighboring counties," Santorum said during the rally. "Someone who lived and grew up in this area, someone who understands the values that makes it such a special place.”