Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Rick Santorum, Damned Glad to Meet You


Rick Santorum greets supporters at the Maricopa County Republicans Lincoln lunch in Phoenix Tuesday. 

The Republican cavalcade of stars continued to pass through Phoenix this week. Last week it was Willard "Mitt" Romney. Today it's former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who came out of nowhere on February 7 to win the beauty contests, because all three were non-binding and awarded no delegates, in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. Romney won them in the 2008 campaign and Santorum's surprise showing caught a lot of people off guard. Tomorrow, Ron Paul is pressing the flesh in Mesa.

The big CNN debate is tomorrow night. This is the debate that almost didn't happen. It was originally scheduled for November but CNN said there were too many debates early in the cycle (the first vote didn't take place till Iowa in January) so they forced the Arizona GOP to push it back. At the time we (in the media) all complained that February was too late. That the race would be over and Mitt Romney would be on his victory tour. 

That was then and this is now. 

Mitt's still the front runner but everyone has had their time at the top of the pyramid. Newt's won some and Santorum's won some. Debates scheduled for the next couple of weeks, before Super Tuesday, have been cancelled because Santorum and Romney pulled out. All of a sudden the little debate that nearly didn't happen has become the most important debate so far. 

I've been busy photographing the candidates as they pass through town. 

Herman Cain? Check.

Michele Bachmann? Check. (twice)

Mitt Romney? Check. (three times)

Ron Paul? He's tomorrow. 

There are more photos from Santorum's luncheon appearance in my archive and available from ZUMA Press