URBANDALE, Iowa — Sharp rises and falls have marked the fortunes of Republican candidates in the race for the party's nomination.
Rick Santorum has experienced neither.
But the former Pennsylvania senator who calls himself a "strong conviction conservative" is counting on Iowa voters to help him catch fire after lagging behind his rivals for much of the campaign.
He's been courting of Iowans the old-fashioned way — campaigning in living rooms, coffee shops and town squares. That work may be starting to pay off at just the right time, as Iowa's Jan. 3 presidential caucuses approach.
Supporters say Santorum is the best-kept secret in the campaign and is making inroads in Iowa. But they don't know if he can win the race.