Rick Santorum has had a few good weeks, by some measures. He zinged Texas Gov. Rick Perry and some other rivals in Republican presidential debates. He earned "grudging" respect from some commentators who respected his allegiance to his own conservative principles, The New York Times reports. But he seemingly remains a loner on a lonely road in his quest to secure the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Some things are going right:

His snappy one-liners and fiery retorts have caught the attention of pundits — and brought grudging respect from critics who, Mr. Santorum says, must concede, “Well, he’s still here.” Despite poll numbers in the single digits, reporters are trailing him. At a fund-raiser the other night, aides said, a guest showed up with a $2,000 check.

“I can honestly say during the first couple of debates, I didn’t feel completely comfortable, like I belonged there,” Mr. Santorum confessed in a long interview here. But during the debate in August in Ames, he said, he surveyed his rivals and said to himself, “I belong here — I should be president, not these guys.”

But even if this is his "moment in the sun," as The Times declares, Santorum has a long way to go to overtake his rivals, and to expunge the frustration that began in 2006, with his defeat for reelection to the Senate from Pennsylvania.

“I was concerned for him,” said Trent Lott, the former Senate Republican leader, who is “very fond of Rick” but backs Mitt Romney. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, if you lost re-election in your own state when you’re the incumbent, how can you turn that into a victory in a nomination for president?’ “

Mr. Santorum has no campaign headquarters, no speechwriter, no advance team, no advertising budget. Campaign finance records show he raised just $582,000 through the end of June; Herman Cain, the former pizza executive, raised $2.5 million. Mr. Santorum is supporting himself by giving speeches, he said, and running through savings.

Speaking of Herman Cain, a recent poll suggests his post-debate bounce is real, and, in a development that should cheer Rick Santorum, Republican primary voters are eager for a candidate who sticks by conservative orthodoxy. But the Associated Press finds the opposite in a piece about the lay of the land in Iowa. Voters are willing to overlook breaks with the conservative mainstream (Perry on immigration and vaccination of girls for H.P.V., former Gov. Mitt Romney on health care reform in Massachusetts). They want someone who can win.

At least in Iowa and New Hampshire, some Republicans are shifting toward Romney and Perry — at the others' expense.

"If we keep focusing on immigration and gay marriage, we're going to lose," said Kathy Potts, an Iowa Republican who had been a key volunteer for Santorum until switching to Perry in September. "He may not be perfect. But he can win. That's the most important thing."