U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback isn't under any illusions. Well, maybe some.
The Kansas Republican brought his campaign to a Rock Hill restaurant Tuesday. It was the same place former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney drew a standing-room crowd, and not far from where voters packed another restaurant to hear former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Brownback drew about two dozen. Some candidates, he said, have no problem getting attention.
"I have to stand naked on top of the Capitol to get on page 15," he said to laughs.
But Brownback also insisted that he's in good shape to win his party's nomination. To him, a third-place finish in last weekend's Iowa straw poll, which some major candidates skipped, was a strong showing.
So he's spending the next couple days stumping in South Carolina, where polls show him stuck at about 1 percent support among Republicans. That's behind almost every other candidate including Huckabee, who finished second in the Iowa straw poll behind Romney.
Brownback's pitch is to social conservatives. But it's hard to out-conservative a conservative Baptist preacher like Huckabee. And it's hard to outspend a multi-millionaire like Romney.
So stuck deep in the "second-tier," Brownback soldiers on.
In Rock Hill he spoke, answered questions and posed for pictures. He's personable with a sense of humor. Asked what he thought of the "Brownback Girl" video making the rounds on the Internet (click here), he threw back his head and laughed. When York County GOP chairman Glenn McCall introduced him by mentioning a couple of his Senate initiatives, Brownback turned to him and said, 'Thanks for noticing those things."
"I'm the tortoise in this race," he said later. "I've got to keep clawing every day."