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Fresh from Illinois defeat, Santorum looks south

Louisiana's primary is on Saturday, and Santorum is hopeful for a strong showing there.

By Philip ElliotThe Associated Press / March 20, 2012

Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania after losing Illinois' primary.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Dealt a resounding defeat in Illinois' presidential primary, Republican Rick Santorum brushed off the latest loss to rival Mitt Romney and told his supporters on Tuesday to "saddle up like Reagan did in the cowboy movies" and help him narrow a seemingly insurmountable deficit in delegates.

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Santorum had hoped to make a real contest of Illinois, the birthplace of actor turned president Ronald Reagan, but he was outspent in advertising by a 7-to-1 margin by Romney and his allies and fled the state before balloting began.

"We're heading to Louisiana for the rest of the week, then we're back here in Pennsylvania and we're going to pick up a whole boatload of delegates and close this gap and then on to victory," he told a packed hotel ballroom in Gettysburg, Pa., as more than 1,000 supporters waited outside.

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Santorum won the Southern states of Alabama and Mississippi last week. Romney has not posted a win in the South since his January triumph in Florida.

"We're feeling very, very good about winning Louisiana on Saturday," Santorum said to cheers.

A 10-day break follows Louisiana before Washington, D.C., Maryland and Wisconsin have primaries on April 3. Santorum is not on the ballot in the nation's capital, the latest example of his campaign's struggle to organize.

But Santorum has shown new signs of political life. Aides said the campaign raised more than $9 million in February and has more than $2.6 million on hand for a Republican primary that shows no sign of ending soon.

Santorum campaign sought to downplay the Illinois results, instead looking at adding delegates from rural areas to Santorum's column in any sum.

"People are getting too focused on winning states. That's not the contest anymore. The contest is winning your share of stuff," longtime Santorum adviser John Brabender told reporters.

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