JOHNSTON, Iowa — Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum touted his tax plan and his electability Wednesday during a tour of Pioneer Hi-Bred headquarters in Johnston.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has campaigned aggressively in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties and attending, by his own count, 349 town hall meetings in the past few months.

But that touring hasn’t translated into success in most polls, where he has remained in single digits.

“Lead, don’t follow,” Santorum told a crowd of about 80 employees who turned out for his early afternoon meet-and-greet in a company meeting hall.

“Don’t pay attention to what the national polls say, don’t pay attention to what the pundits in Washington say,” he continued. “Most of them, in fact almost all of them, haven’t had the opportunity to meet and talk to a presidential candidate. Most of the folks who answer these polls, most of them don’t even know the names of any of the people who are running, yet they answer them anyway.”

Santorum spent the next several minutes talking about campaigning in Pennsylvania, where he served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two in the U.S. Senate. He noted Pennsylvania is a swing state, much like Iowa, and said his success there proves he is electable.

After talking for about 20 minutes, Santorum took questions from the audience and delved into details of his tax proposal.

Under his proposal, individual tax rates would be either 10 percent or 28 percent. Individuals would be allowed five deductions: charitable, children, housing, pensions and health care.

Santorum also proposes reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 17 percent. He said a 20 percent tax credit would be available for companies involved in research and development, and there would be no corporate income tax for manufacturers.

“Why? Because (in) manufacturing and processing, more than any other sector of the economy, we’re uncompetitive and we’re losing our jobs,” he said.

After the employee event, Santorum spoke briefly with reporters about his chances in the Jan. 3 caucuses and how those results will influence his decision to continue his campaign.

“Well, we have to do well,” he said. “There are so many things that can happen in these caucuses where you can literally have all three candidates within 3 percent of each other.”

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He said there are actually three competing caucuses within the GOP. He said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich are competing for the moderate vote.

Santorum said he, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are competing for the conservative vote.

“Ron Paul’s in his own primary,” he said of the Texas congressman. “It’s a libertarian primary.”

Santorum, however, wouldn’t say what type of percentages his campaign needed to achieve in the caucuses for him to continue on past Iowa.

“For me to be within 3 percent of first place, if I was in last, that’s pretty good for me,” he said. “It all depends on how this thing breaks out … if everybody’s within a stone’s throw of everybody else, it’s hard to say who’s a winner and who’s a loser at that point.”