Dealt a resounding defeat in Illinois’ presidential primary, Republican Rick Santorum brushed off the latest loss to rival Mitt Romney and told his supporters on Tuesday to “saddle up like Reagan did in the cowboy movies” and help him narrow a seemingly insurmountable deficit in delegates.

Santorum had hoped to make a real contest of Illinois, the birthplace of actor-turned-President Ronald Reagan, but he was outspent in advertising by a 7-to-1 margin by Romney and his allies and fled the state before balloting began.

“We’re heading to Louisiana for the rest of the week, then we’re back here in Pennsylvania and we’re going to pick up a whole boatload of delegates and close this gap and then on to victory,” he told a packed hotel ballroom in Gettysburg, Pa., as more than 1,000 supporters waited outside.