STEUBENVILLE - Rick Santorum promised to continue his campaign for president and told supporters his presidential campaign "is about the towns left behind and the families who made those towns the greatest in this country."
"We have won two gold medals and a passel of silver medals during Super Tuesday voting in 10 states," said Santorum.
The audience in the Steubenville High School gymnasium, estimated at approximately 700 people by campaign organizers, listened to Santorum and cheered as they watched a nearby screen carrying election results from CNN.
MAKING A POINT — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum talks to supporters during his election night party Tuesday in the Steubenville High School gymnasium. Santorum lost Ohio to Mitt Romney by 1 percentage point but said his campaign will go forward. -- Michael D. McElwain
"Not too many presidential candidates come here much less hold their victory parties in Steubenville. We just came from our war room which doubles as the school's weight room. And we prepared our remarks while sitting in the coaches' room. This is our roots. We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South and we're ready to win across this country," said Santorum.
Christianna Achebe of Steubenville stood in front of the podium holding rosary beads in her hand as she waited for Santorum to enter the gymnasium.
"I am praying and asking the Lord to give us a victory tonight," she said.
The crowd cheered loudly every time the CNN report showed Santorum leading Mitt Romney in Ohio. But after the event had ended Romney moved ahead of Santorum in Ohio and finished with a 1 percent edge over his rival.
"Tonight it's clear. It's clear. We've won races all over this country against the odds. When they thought, 'Oh, OK, he's finally finished,' we keep coming back. We are in this thing. We went up against enormous odds and we have overcome the odds here in Ohio," stated Santorum."
Mike Emmerling said he came to the Santorum rally "to support a fellow Nittany Lion. I like Rick Santorum and I am happy he came to Steubenville."
"This is the beginning of the end of freedom in America," said Santorum. "Once government has control of your life they have got you. We have given up our jobs and are living off our savings. We are making a sacrifice for a very big goal and that is replacing this president in November," he said.
"In order to make that happen the Republican Party has to nominate someone who can address the issues. We need a person who is right on the issues and who will tell the truth to the American public. We need a fighter and someone who learned what America is like from growing up in a community like this," stated Santorum.
Santorum introduced his 93-year-old mother and his mother- and father-in-law, who had joined him on the stage.
"They are part of the greatest generation in America. And they are the greatest generation because when freedom was at stake they rose to meet the call. You are all blessed to be here when your country needs you," added Santorum.
According to David Schmiesing of Steubenville, "I agree with Rick's vision on the role of government and his vision on life issues. He delivers a message that hasn't been heard in a long time."
"I think he can get America where it should be again. And I am supporting him because he is honorable," cited Dan Hawrot of Steubenville.
"He is a man of principles and has strong religious commitments," added Hawrot.
Rosemary Adams emerged from the gymnasium declaring she had just shaken Santorum's hand.
"Its clear he is a man of integrity. Rick Santorum emphasizes faith, family and just moral values. We should elect a strong moral individual and I believe Rick Santorum is that man," remarked Adams.
Santorum won Jefferson County in Tuesday's primary election. According to unofficial results, Santorum received 4,416 votes, while Romney had 1,940 votes.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)