published Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Rick Santorum making quick stop in Dalton for morning rally


by Chris Carroll
Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets supporters after speaking at Temple Baptist Church on Wednesday in Powell, Tenn.
Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets supporters after speaking at Temple Baptist Church on Wednesday in Powell, Tenn.
Photo by Associated Press.

IF YOU GO

What: Rally for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum

When: Organizers are encouraging people to arrive by 8 a.m. today for security purposes.

Where: City Hall, 300 W. Waugh S., Dalton, Ga.

Admission: Free

It's Rick Santorum's turn to woo Dalton Republicans.

Two days after Newt Gingrich swept through town and rallied hundreds at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, Republican presidential candidate Santorum is expected to visit Dalton for an early-morning rally in the City Council chamber.

Mayor David Pennington said the chamber holds about 300 people, and he encouraged supporters to arrive by 8 a.m. for security reasons.

Santorum will speak before taking "unscripted questions" from the audience, said campaign spokesman Matt Beynon. But the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania will be on the road within an hour, hitting stops in Atlanta and Washington state.

It will be Santorum's second visit to the Chattanooga area in a week and the first since he lost Tuesday's primaries in Arizona and Michigan.

On Saturday, he visited Abba's House in Hixson, where he talked about family values and called President Barack Obama a "snob" for saying all American children should go to college.

Obama and some Republican governors later skewered the "snob" line, saying it went beyond Santorum's usual rhetoric and undermined the idea that staying in school is the surest path to success.

Santorum since has backtracked, attempting to focus on job creation and the manufacturing industry as he looks ahead to Georgia, Tennessee and eight other states holding presidential primaries Tuesday.

Pennington said that strategy was supposed to materialize in Dalton, where Santorum was scheduled to tour J&J Industries, a carpet manufacturer.

But Santorum's status now warrants a U.S. Secret Service team, which didn't have enough time to secure J&J Industries, Pennington said. Santorum instead will host a private meeting with carpet industry executives at City Hall before the public rally, sources said.

Georgia and Tennessee are seen as important Super Tuesday states. Georgia has the most delegates of any Super Tuesday state -- 76 -- while Tennessee has the third-most at 58. Both states award delegates on a proportional basis.

Polls show Gingrich with a comfortable yet dwindling Peach State lead, while Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University polls show Santorum with a 2-to-1 advantage over Mitt Romney in Tennessee.

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