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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) shakes hands with supporters after speaking at a Michigan Faith and Freedom Coalition rally February 17, 2012 in Shelby Township, Michigan.
Rick Santorum’s three-state sweep last week shook up the republican race yesterday, casting doubt on front-runner and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s hold over the party’s core voting base. Santorum beat Ron Paul as well in Minnesota’s caucuses, placing Romney in third. He beat Romney in Colorado, as well. Santorum’s surprise surge claims four victories in the race, while Romney has three. Next up for the Republican nominees are the high-stakes primaries in Arizona and Michigan. But what does this all mean now?
Results from the past week suggest a persistent weakness for Romney’s campaign, but at the same time, Santorum’s new surge may fuel Romney in the battle for the nomination. A revived Santorum campaign could also mean that he and Gingrich will continue to divide the anti-Romney vote, leaving neither one with strong delegate counts.
Despite that, both Romney and Santorum are campaigning hard in Michigan ahead of the Feb. 28 primary. A new poll from Michigan shows both candidates are neck and neck. The leading GOP contenders were both put on the defensive with Santorum responding to attacks from Romney’s campaign on his fiscal conservatism and past support for organized labor; Romney also sought to defend his opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors.
Will Romney’s campaign make a comeback? What about Ron Paul, who placed second in Minnesota? How will Santorum keep up his momentum? What do his recent victories mean? Gingrich is determined to win the conservative bloc. How does this affect the anti-Romney vote? Santorum has more campaign cash than any of the other candidates. Will this aid him in the upcoming primaries?
Will Bunch, Senior Writer, Philadelphia Daily News
Dan Schnur, Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California