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Rick Santorum: Why I still have a chance

Sen. Rick Santorum at the CNBC GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Sen. Rick Santorum at the CNBC GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado.

Rick Santorum said Tuesday he hopes the Iowa caucuses will give his long-shot presidential candidacy a boost, despite his weak polling numbers.

In the 2012 Iowa caucuses, the conservative former Pennsylvania senator got a late lift and outpolled Mitt Romney by 34 votes.

"I go back to four years ago. Six to seven weeks out, I was sitting at 3 or 4 percent in Iowa in a field that was half the size of this field, and we were able to come back and catch a late surge," Santorum told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Santorum is now polling at an average of less than 1 percent, close to where Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, was polling when he dropped out of the race Monday.

"Seventy-five percent of Iowans four years ago didn't decide until the last month of the campaign, and half didn't decide until the last week," Santorum said. "I think that actually will be a higher number this year."

Santorum hopes the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 1, also could provide him with fresh funding.

"There are a lot of conservatives out there, a lot of conservative money frankly that is sitting on the sidelines," he said. "They're going to wait and see who's real. All these polls are great, but until people start voting none of it's real."

Santorum noted that a day after the 2012 Iowa caucuses, his campaign raised more money than it had in a year.

Santorum is one of 13 Republicans still vying for the 2016 presidential nomination.