Santorum courts conservatives in New Hampshire

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is in New Hampshire on Tuesday to kick off a series of house parties hosted by former Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne's Granite Oath PAC. 

Santorum is the first potential 2012 presidential hopeful to participate in the series, which takes place in Lamontagne's home and is aimed at giving small groups of Republicans in the state access to potential candidates in a more intimate setting.    

"We intend to set the standard in New Hampshire for who we think is the most conservative candidate who can win," Lamontagne told The Hill last month.  

Lamontagne said he fully expects his PAC will endorse a candidate ahead of the New Hampshire primary — backing that could carry some serious weight given Lamontagne's new higher profile with the state's GOP base.

The Republican waged a strong primary challenge to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) this past fall, coming up just short despite being heavily outspent.

This will be the eighth visit to the state for Santorum, who moved closer to a run earlier this month when he announced the hiring of his first staffer in New Hampshire.

In a recent interview with The Hill, Santorum said he was encouraged by visits to the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and that he's in no rush to jump into the race ahead of other potential 2012 hopefuls.

"Obviously I wouldn't be thinking about doing this if I wasn't very encouraged by the reaction I'm getting on the ground," Santorum said. "There's a lot to weigh as we move forward. We'll see how the money comes in, see how the grassroots support is. This really is a legitimate testing of the waters for us right now."