Rick Santorum Rallies in Osage Beach Before Caucus

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OSAGE BEACH - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum held a rally in Osage Beach Friday, speaking to a crowd of more than 500 people. The former Pennsylvania senator appeared at the Main Street Music Hall.  This visit comes on the tails of Santorum's big win in Missouri's non-binding primary in February.  Santorum hopes to continue his Show-Me State streak with most of the state's caucuses getting underway on Saturday.

The candidate told KOMU 8 News in an interview following the rally, "The clear convincing margin of victory here in Missouri just made everybody look up and take notice. It's really been that springboard of Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado that day that has made this a two candidate race, and I'm very very grateful for the people of Missouri."

Nationally, many campaigns deemed the Missouri primary a beauty contest among candidates.  Santorum has invested more time in Missouri than the other candidates—he was the only one to campaign prior to the non-binding primary.  Some voters said they came to see if what Santorum stood for. 

"I wanted to see if he was willing to right those wrongs and he is," said Theres Fiore Chester, a resident from Osage Beach. 

With Santorum close behind Mitt Romney at the top of the GOP race, some Republicans are calling out Gingrich and Ron Paul for holding Santorum back from closing the gap.

"Why is [Gingrich] staying in, it doesn't make since. He's losing. What is the purpose of that except to split the vote," Fiore Chester said. "So I believe he should drop out, Paul should drop out and let's see then who gets the delegates."

Santorum called on voters to send someone with conservative views up against President Obama for the election in November. He said the Republican nominee needs to stand out against Obama.

"We need someone who can draw a clear contrast. We need someone who has the track record of shrinking government...someone who's strong on national security and has convictions. Not someone that's been on every side of every issue, that you can trust that when things get tough that they're not going to go for what the popular sentiment is they're going to stand up for what they said they were going to do," he said.

KOMU 8 News asked Santorum where he had the Mizzou Tigers on his March Madness bracket, but the candidate said he didn't fill one out and normally pulls for Penn State.  He did add that he thinks the MU basketball team has the potential to pull it off this year.  

For a full list of caucuses in Missouri click here.

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