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29 Things I Learned From Spending Two Days With Rick Santorum

I spent two days with Rick Santorum in Iowa and traveled over 500 miles to 6 different meet-and-greets and rallies in Knoxville, Pella, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Orange City, and Rock Rapids, Iowa. Here are some of the observations I made along the way.

Posted on January 2, 2012, at 2:12 p.m. ET

29. There is a museum for everything in Iowa.

It seems like every little town has one. This was the first Santorum event I went to in Knoxville, Iowa.

28. Iowa is farms, farms, and more farms. And nothing.

I traveled about 500 miles in the 2 days and didn't see much of anything. Once you get in the northwest corner of the state there are pretty big cattle mills, though.

27. Rick Santorum travels around in a Ram 1500.

He's just like you.

This was my paparazzi shot of him leaving his last event on New Year's Eve.

26. This book was a big hit.

This guy was at almost every stop along the way. He tried to get his book in the back of everyone's pictures. You would think people would be annoyed, but they weren't. People were buying them at $20 a piece.

25. Rick Santorum's son loves mugging for the camera.

His son, one of 7 children, was with him at almost all of the 6 events. WERK.

24. Rick Santorum is a chocolate ice cream fan.

I overheard someone from Pella asking Rick's son if he disagrees with his father on anything. His answer: "Yeah...he likes chocolate ice cream, I like vanilla."

23. Rick Santorum's stance on abortion is probably the most important issue for his supporters.

Surprisingly, the issue that got the loudest applause was anything about abortion. I was expecting there to be more talk about gay marriage or DOMA or the recalling of the judges in Iowa. But no. There was one mention of people accepting "different types of relationships," people reacted with "ughs."

22. Still, for some people, gay marriage is an important issue.

One of the things I'm doing in Iowa is asking people what their definition of the "American Dream" is. Here's one of the responses I got.

21. Immigration was the other important issue.

I didn't really think people from Iowa would be so concerned about immigration, but they are. It was a question at every stop we were at.

20. Rick's father is an Italian immigrant!!!

He mentioned it at every stop telling the story about his immigrant grandfather who escaped Mussolini, saved money for 5 years, and finally was able to bring his family over.

19. Rick Santorum supporters don't do "WTF."

In Sioux City, a bunch of ladies scolded me over my WTF sticker on my notepad. I took it off at the next stop.

18. When they say Northwest Iowa is God's country, they mean it.

I had no idea you could line streets with giant crosses. This was in Orange City. Orange City was probably my favorite city of the 6 I went to. It was very clean and ticky tacky. The people were nice, too.

17. The further in the middle of nowhere we went, the more kids were at events.

This is probably my favorite picture I took. It's in Orange City. The room was overflowing and full of children. I definitely noticed more kids as we moved to more conservative areas of the state.

16. People love pins.

This guy was at 3 of the 6 stops with his big ole' pin board.

15. This is what Chris Matthews looks like "incognito."

Spotted him in Knoxville.

14. Some Iowans wear cool hats.

Honestly, this hat is awesome. It had gold tassel around it!!

13. The sunsets in Iowa are beautiful.

12. Journalists stick out like a sore thumb.

At every event, you know who the journalists are. The contrast of the people was very interesting. I'm going to try to get more pictures to put together a post.

11. Santorum doesn't have many canine supporters.

Unfortunately, I only spotted one dog at all of these events. I had to take a picture, of course. I love this pic because it *kind of* looks like he's listening.

10. Diversity is a bad thing.

In Ottumwa, Rick said: "Diversity creates conflict. We can't celebrate diversity it because it creates conflict."

9. This is what Rick Santorum's biggest fan looks like.

I met this lady and her husband in Ottumwa. She was running all over the place and was probably my favorite person I met, she was really sweet. She started a Tea Party group in her county and was sure to let you know that her husband was black!

8. Some Iowans have attitudes.

This was my second favorite person I met. He gave Rick lip in Knoxville. He told him: "If you pay me, I'll put up your sign!"

7. SOS = Sold On Santorum.

This was my favorite campaign sign.

6. Rick's speeches got more conservative and fanatical the further away we were from civilization. The crowds were also bigger.

Northwest Iowa is the most conservative part of the state. I noticed that the further North and West we got, the more conservative his speeches got. There was more talk about terrorists and even a Michelle Obama "doesn't love her country" jab.

5. Rick Santorum eats at Subway.

I know it's weird to screencap your own Tweet, but it's all I got. When I was leaving my last stop I was starving, it was Sunday night, and nothing was open. So, I went to Subway. I pull in and who do I see in line with his entire family: RICK SANTORUM. I couldn't escape him!

4. Coke cans = communist?

In Sioux City this question was asked: "We have so much foreign influence today. I'm looking at a Coke can with a polar bear on it. Where do we go from here?"

3. Rick Santorum has infiltrators.

At my last stop, I met this woman. I went up to her, assuming she was a Rick Santorum supporter, and started talking to her. She instantly began quizzing me about where I was from and what I thought about Rick's policies. I was nervous people would ask me about my opinion, and luckily it hadn't happened until now. Anyways, I was terrified! I thought I was in a trap, but then she started telling me, "how scary was that."

This picture is funny because she was worried people would notice she wasn't a Rick Santorum supporter. (FYI, she's holding up a sign describing her "American Dream." It's a project I'm working on)

2. Rick Santorum drinks "Santorum" water.

I couldn't get a good picture, but Rick Santorum drinks his own "Santorum" water. It's his own labeled bottled water.

1. Rick Santorum always has a "muffin top."

His pants are too tight and the sweater vests aren't helping.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.