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Santorum challenges Romney despite minimal budget, staff

Rick Santorum nearly tied with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus, Tuesday, but can Santorum compete with Romney without a massive budget? The latest figures showed Santorum had less than $200,000 in his campaign account while Romney had $14.7 million.

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Rick Santorum supporter attends a campaign stop at Rockingham County Nursing Home in Brentwood, New Hampshire Wednesday. Santorum scored a major victory by taking Iowa's Republican nominating contest right down to the wire on Tuesday, but has a significant disadvantage to Mitt Romney when it comes to campaign budgets.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Rick Santorum looked Wednesday to establish himself as the top conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, one day after jolting the Republican presidential race by coming within eight votes of winning the Iowa caucuses.

Romney barely defeated Santorum in Iowa, where the party held its first contest in the race to find a challenger to President Barack Obama. Until recently, Santorum had been polling in the low single-digits and was seen as having little hope of being a top contender.

Romney's win helped solidify his standing as front-runner going into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, where he is heavily favored. But Romney has not been able to raise his support beyond the 25 percent level in national opinion polls. He won just under 25 percent of the vote in Iowa.

Some Republicans see Romney, a former governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts, as insufficiently conservative on abortion, health care and other issues. As other conservative candidates drop out, that could create an opening for Santorum, an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage.

The Republican field narrowed some Wednesday with congresswoman Michele Bachmann dropping out of the race after last-place showing among active candidates in Iowa.

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