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What’s Rick Santorum’s exit strategy – er plan to prevail?

Rick Santorum is falling farther and farther behind Mitt Romney in the Republican convention delegate count. To reverse that, he needs to win his home state of Pennsylvania and then the southern states that follow.

By Staff writer / April 7, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets supporters in Cranberry, Pa. Tuesday April 3. Santorum says his home state is a must-win for him to continue his presidential campaign.

Jae C. Hong/AP

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Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul seem to have dropped off the political map, struggling to win a Republican Party convention delegate here and there, but given no chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination.

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But what of Rick Santorum?

He’s hanging on to second place. But he’s taken a shellacking in the last few primaries, falling even farther behind Mitt Romney, who keeps racking up more and more delegates (as well as endorsements) and an aura of “inevitability” among establishment Republicans.

In Tuesday’s three primaries (Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia) Romney won 88 delegates to Santorum’s 9.

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In a nutshell, Santorum’s survival strategy is to prevail in his home state of Pennsylvania April 24, then move into friendlier territory when southern states return to the primary scene in May (North Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas).

“In the minds of social conservatives, it’s not even close to over,” conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace tells the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg. “The real question is how committed someone like Rick Santorum is to fighting this out all the way to the end. If he’s committed to doing this on a personal level, there’s plenty of social conservatives that will ride him to the finish line.”

Well, maybe, and it’s a long shot to be sure.

After two terms in the US Senate, Santorum was chucked from office in 2006 – losing by more than 700,000 votes and 18 percentage points.

Santorum now claims to have a “strong base of support” in his home state, but others aren’t so sure.

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