For Santorum, Pennsylvania is a double-edged sword

Loss in home state could end his bid for White House

A USA Today/Gallup Swing States poll released this week showed that Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney in key election swing states and that the incumbent Democrat also leads among independents, with a particular advantage among female voters.

Despite another poor showing this week, Mr. Santorum signaled that he won’t make Mr. Romney’s life easier anytime soon. He vowed to stick in the race through the Pennsylvania primary and painted Mr. Romney as a surefire loser for the party in a general election. He likened Mr. Romney’s candidacy to President Ford’s failed re-election campaign in 1976, when he squeezed out a primary victory against Ronald Reagan only to lose to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

“Let’s not make the mistake of 1976 again. Let’s bypass that error and move straight to 1980,” Mr. Santorum said, alluding to Mr. Reagan’s victory over Mr. Carter four years later. “And let’s defeat a Democratic incumbent.”

The Santorum camp argues that Mr. Romney does not excite the party’s base — and that could haunt the party in a general election.

“I think it’s obvious for any of you who have been out in this country, you see we have supporters who crawl across broken glass,” Hogan Gidley, a Santorum spokesman, told reporters Tuesday. “Mitt Romney couldn’t get somebody to walk across a parking lot in a pair of Nikes if he gave them a golf cart.”

He added, “You have to rally the base. You have to have them excited if you are going to win a general election. We saw that with [Sen. John] McCain, it didn’t work. We saw it with Bob Dole; the same thing.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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