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Even some who know Santorum well say he isn’t the best candidate for the times.

“It’s fairly clear Mitt Romney is a much better candidate than Rick Santorum to attract swing voters in a year like this,” said former Rep. Phil English, a Romney supporter who campaigned with Santorum in 2006.

Santorum lost that election to Casey by 18 percentage points. His defeat has been attributed in part to the anti-war, anti-Bush mood that took hold in 2006 and in part to a blunt personal style that his constituents didn’t always appreciate. Santorum didn’t back down from his support for Bush or the war.

“I’ve been there, I’ve stood with him and I’ve gone down with the ship,” said English, now a Washington-based lobbyist.

Supporters such as trucking contractor Marlin Schnupp, who showed up to see Santorum at a rally last month in Gettysburg, sees past the criticism that Santorum can’t appeal to moderates.

“Maybe they’re right, but it doesn’t change what I think,” said Schnupp, 64, who views Santorum as the only candidate who is honest. “If it meant we lost the national election, I’d still support him.”

Romney has more than half of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, more than twice Santorum’s total, according to the latest tally by The Associated Press. Santorum would need to win 80 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination before the GOP’s national convention in August.

Santorum is helped some by the fact that Romney is struggling with his image in Pennsylvania, too. The Franklin & Marshall poll found Romney and Santorum with nearly identical unfavorable ratings, 25 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

But Santorum is under more pressure to win Pennsylvania.

“It would be the ultimate black eye to his campaign to lose his home state and really diminish his argument that he can take to the convention that he is an electable candidate” in November, said Muhlenberg College pollster Christopher Borick.