Santorum looked at ease with his growing crowds, cracking jokes about the C-SPAN live feed creating an echo and goading the audience that they could interrupt him with applause as often as they'd like.
That rise in popularity has suddenly made him a target among his GOP competitors, and he again sought to defend himself against questions about an attack ad from Texas Gov. Rick Perry labeling him a "serial earmarker" who sought federal money for projects that contributed to Washington's spending largess.
He defended his support of earmark-funded projects as part of Congress's responsibility to appropriately allocate tax dollars.
"You can't just trust the bureaucracy to make the right call," Mr. Santorum said.
He also shot back at Mr. Perry, calling it hypocritical for him to criticize earmarks when he hired lobbyists seek federal funds for the Lone Star State.
We'll have more in tomorrow's Post-Gazette, but I'll leave you with a photo of Clara Dee, an eight-year-old from Marshalltown who stood on a chair for his hour-and-a-half of remarks.
Clara and her father, Bryce, were awaiting a photo of Santorum for her class project. She got a similar one with Perry on Thursday.
She said she liked listening to the former senator - her father, however, remains undecided about his selection for Tuesday.
Santorum is in the running, though Mr. Dee will be tracking down Gingrich and Bachmann too before caucus day. "He stands for what we stand for," he said.
Additional video clips from the town hall: