Santorum hunts cash; Romney seeks ‘tea’ votes

Santorum hunts cash; Romney seeks ‘tea’ votes

Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:00 pm

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Launched by a bitter debate, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are powering into a crucial stretch of Republican primaries and caucuses, one man badly needing money and the other anxious to win over conservative voters.  
Romney was turning his focus today to tea partyers in Michigan, his birthplace, where cash-strapped Santorum is waging an unexpectedly strong challenge. Romney’s been put on the defensive in the auto-building state over his opposition to the government’s bailout of car makers.
Romney took a pounding on the auto issue in Wednesday night’s debate, and President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign piled today. Obama released a TV ad in Michigan accusing Romney and the other GOP candidates of turning their backs on an industry that supports more than 1 million workers in the state by opposing the bailout.
A tea party rally tonight in Milford, Mich., will give Romney another chance to explain why he opposed the rescue of GM and Chrysler amid the economic crisis but supported bailouts for banks.
Santorum, flourishing in the polls, trails in the money chase and is concentrating on beefing up his campaign treasury in hopes of an upset in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday. That would cap a rebound that began two weeks ago when Santorum won caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a nonbinding primary in Missouri.
The 20th debate of the nomination race offered the GOP hopefuls their final face-to-face outing on a national stage before contests over the next 13 days that may well winnow the four-man field.
The debate was staged in Arizona, which also votes Tuesday and where Romney is so confident of victory he hasn’t aired any television ads.
After the Arizona and Michigan primaries come Washington’s caucuses four days later. Then 10 states cast ballots on Super Tuesday, March 6.
Polls show Santorum leading the field nationally and in several states. Romney and rivals Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich used the televised debate to challenge Santorum, who repeatedly found himself in the hot seat over his record on spending, home-state projects known as earmarks and support for a federal education law.
Published in The Messenger 2.23.12

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