Greetings from Michigan

The Santorum camp is laying it all on the line in Michigan and Ohio, and why not? If the blue collar pitch he's been using since standing on the steps of the Somerset courthouse is going to pay off anywhere, it has to be there. Here's the strategy, from Politico:

The privately held hope in the Santorum camp is that beating Romney in his native state of Michigan or in the ultimate general election battleground of Ohio would discredit, on a grand scale, the on-and-off Republican front-runner and make the other candidates in the race irrelevant in the remaining contests.

“If we can get it to a two-person race, I feel very confident that we will be the nominee,” said Santorum strategist John Brabender, who explained that the campaign is assessing where to play based on the number of delegates at stake and the cost of competing in each state.

So far, so good. He's leading Mitt Romney in Michigan 33-27% according to the American Research Group and getting an assist from the editors at National Review in that two-person strategy:

. . . On his own arguments the proper course for [Gingrich] now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

Santorum has been conducting himself rather impressively in his moments of triumph and avoiding characteristic temptations. He is doing his best to keep the press from dismissing him as merely a “social-issues candidate.” His recent remark that losing his Senate seat in 2006 taught him the importance of humility suggests an appealing self-awareness. And he has rightly identified the declining stability of middle-class families as a threat to the American experiment, even if his proposed solutions are poorly designed. But sensible policies, important as they are, are not the immediate challenge for his candidacy. Proving he can run a national campaign is.

A new PPP poll in Michigan has him up 15 points over Romney and beating him in every county except Oakland. Democrats and independents are helping the surge.

Santorum has been doing increasingly well in national polls too. And this is exactly the right time for him to seize that, given his other disadvantages, says the WashPost's Fix blog:

We’re getting to the point in the race where national polling matters more and more, because the next stretch of the campaign will be fought in basically one-quarter of the country.

Santorum’s campaign, while seeing an uptick in fundraising in recent days, is still the most meagerly funded of the campaigns that remain. He will still be outspent, and probably significantly so, in the next phase of the campaign, and he will probably be outmanned, too.

Now, if only there was an issue that could help Santorum seize more national attention. Perhaps if a governor somewhere who was signing a bill legalizing gay marriage in a state holding caucuses sometime soon . . . From the Seattle Times:
In his first foray [to Washington State] in advance of the state's March 3 GOP caucuses, Santorum is planning a 7 p.m. campaign rally Monday at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, according to plans sent by his campaign to state Republican leaders.
Before that, Santorum will meet at an Olympia church with a group of "values voters" opposed to gay marriage. Santorum is also expected to meet with the state House and Senate Republican caucuses, said Kirby Wilbur, state GOP chairman.
For what it's worth, Santorum had Guinness and fish after Friday's CPAC speech. (WashPost)
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