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Campaign Journal: Charleston, S.C.

Published by James O'Toole on .

Where to begin? On a day of cascading news developments in the constantly surprising Republican nomination fight, Rick Santorum did his best to leverage the belated news of his first place showing in Iowa two weeks ago, while a surging Newt Gingrich accepted the endorsement of Texas Go. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney's campaign fired back with calls for the former speaker to release the records of a decades old ethics investigation that resulted in a six-figure fine against him.

Standing under the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston harbor, Mr. Santorum sought his share of the news spotlighs he appeared with Tony Perkins, the leader of the Family Research Council.

Mr. Santorum hailed his "solid win,'' in the caucuses, even as GOP officials in DesMoines said they would never know for sure who came out ahead, as the votes of severals precincts had gone mission.

"We feel very, very good about what that win will mean,'' Mr. Santorum said as he stood with his sons, John and David, and his daughter, Sarah Maria

In a message to conservatives searching for alternatives to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he said, "It proves we can win ... guess what, we defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa.''

He said his party deserved a nominee who would not be the source of surprises in the months to come. That warning could be applied to both of his leading rivals, both under pressure from opponents to disclose different kinds of records. Mr. Romney has been under fire for failing to release his tax returns. he Romney camp tried to turn the fire back on Mr. Gingrich in a morning conference call as former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu demanded that Mr. Gingrich release the records of a decades old ethics investigation.

At the outdoor rally, just hours before the last pre-primary debate, Mr. Santorum said that so-called "values voters,'' should look to him as someone who "walks the walk,'' on their issues, a comment that amounted to an oblique swipe against Mr. Gingrich. His day of positive news was balanced by emergence of an ABC interview with one of his two former wives, Marianne, in which she reportedly said that Mr. Gingrich had wanted an "open marriage.''

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