The Santorum camp is doing its best to push back on the impression that his presidential run is going down the tubes.
Santorum also is looking at Arizona and Michigan, states that vote at the end of February — if he makes it that far.
His inner circle of advisers is looking at the campaign checkbook. They say they can keep a lean campaign rolling in case Gingrich or Romney implode.
"This race is just starting. It's a three-man race," Santorum insists. "We're going to be in this race for the long term."
For now, at least, polls show Santorum dramatically trailing in Florida, the largest and most diverse state in the early nominating schedule. And he seems to be coming up short as he tries to win over voters with his everyman persona.
The WashPost has a similar pre-mortem story. (That's their photo above.)
But fret not, for as usual conservative beltway blogger Jennifer Rubin has a Santorum silver lining. Just think: Gingrich's performance at last night's debate was so lackluster, and goes so far to clinch a Romney win in Fla, that maybe, just maybe it'll all come down to a race between just Romney and Santorum. She writes:
There was some question as to whether Santorum would be able to build on his success in Iowa. He now has set himself up to do that and to show the right that conservatism is more than attitude. As a smart and articulate proponent of conservatism with an interesting twist on traditional free-market economics, he’ll be a welcomed alternative to the Newtonian politics of outrage, anger and self-delusion.
Then this funding scooplet from the WSJ -- billionaire financial backer Foster Friess of Wyoming still plans to pay for TV ads for Santorum, just not in Florida. And he'll be back in the embrace of Pennsylvania come Monday, when he holds a fundraiser and meets reporters in West Chester.