MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, fighting to emerge as the leading conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney, on Tuesday forecast a long nomination battle with “lots of opportunities to rise and fall.”

“This isn’t the only contest. We’ve got lots of contests,” the former Pennsylvania senator told reporters while greeting voters as they cast their ballots in the nation’s first presidential primary in New Hampshire.

“This is going to be a long primary season. ...There’s going to be lots of opportunities to rise and fall,” he said.

Santorum knows something about rising. In the week since moving from also-ran status to finish a close second behind Mitt Romney in Iowa, his fundraising and polling have picked up. He has brought in more money in the week since coming within eight votes of winning Iowa’s caucuses than he did during his entire presidential bid.

“I think we are in the neighborhood of $3 million since Iowa,” Santorum said. “We went nine months on $2 million.”

Money might not matter. He spent just $30,000 on ads in Iowa and finished on Romney’s heels.

Santorum hasn’t bought any advertising in New Hampshire, relying instead on a constant stream of media interviews and visits to polling places for some last-minute, face-to-face campaigning.

“We just didn’t feel we had the time to make a difference here,” Santorum said of advertising.

The former senator said he would be pleased to end up in the middle of the six-man pack after the polls close, behind Romney, who is favored to win, and Ron Paul, the Texas congressman likely to claim second place, polls show.

“That would show we have the momentum,” Santorum said on Fox News Channel.

Asked if he might pull off another second-place, Santorum said: “Just the mention of that would be beyond our dreams.”