Rick Santorum’s Iowa Caucus Staffers Have Faith

'The momentum in Iowa will help Santorum get to the next level,' conservative candidate's supporter tells MTV News.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Almost every candidate in the Republican presidential field has gotten a chance to be the front-runner so far. But in the days leading up to Tuesday night’s (January 3) all-important first contest, the Iowa caucus , former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is definitely peaking at just the right time.

The staunchly conservative family-values candidate, who was polling in the single digits for much of last year, has surged in the past few weeks and is now a close third behind Representative Ron Paul and leading candidate Mitt Romney . At a campaign rally Tuesday morning at a “Rock the Caucus” event in the gymnasium of Valley High School in West Des Moines, his staffers told MTV News they were feeling bullish about his prospects.

“Santorum is a huge supporter of faith and family. I truly believe that supporting the family … will have a trickle-up effect on our society in America,” said Jonathan Gehman, 29. “Kids who grow up in strong families will get good jobs and have good morals and high integrity that will build this country.”

As he’s spoken to people on the phone over the past few weeks, Gehman said a number were unaware of Santorum, but admitted that the more they heard about him and saw him on the news, the more they liked what he was saying. “The energy is going to carry into tonight, and the momentum in Iowa will help Santorum get to the next level,” he predicted.

Fellow staffer Ryan Rutt, 26, said Santorum resonates with him because of the candidate’s views on limited government. “He believes in people and not in the government fixing our problems,” Rutt said. “He’s all about smaller government, people unleashing their own innovation and not having the government take care of us.”

Plus, Rutt said without naming names, he feels Santorum (who calls himself “Steady Eddie”) has had a consistent message and has not flip-flopped on his beliefs.

While Santorum is known for holding a socially conservative hard line on issues such as abortion and gay rights, Rutt said he thinks his candidate might actually benefit from the youth support that has buoyed another late-surging candidate, libertarian Paul, who has a more socially liberal slate of views.

“There’s a lot of youth support for Ron Paul now, but I think the core message of principles that they’re excited about Rick Santorum also has,” he said. “They get excited about freedom, they get excited about liberty, and that’s what I get excited about. While Ron Paul has sort of a sexy appeal, I think that they will quickly realize when Santorum comes around that he has a lot of those same core principles and that’s why they’ll get behind Rick Santorum.”

MTV is on the scene in Iowa! Head to Iowa.MTV.com for all our Iowa caucus coverage , and stick with PowerOf12.org throughout the presidential election season to follow Andrew Jenks on the campaign trail.

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