2012 ELECTION

Santorum revels in sudden support - but how deep?

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The conservative Club for Growth has been equally critical. And Romney has been aggressive on the campaign trail, suggesting in recent days that Santorum and Gingrich represent the kind of overspending Washington insiders the tea party abhors.

At the same time, left-leaning groups such as the Center For American Progress and Emily's List are going after Santorum's comments on women.

A staunch social conservative, Santorum has been critical of women serving in combat and sometimes in the workplace.

"Sadly the propaganda campaign launched in the 1960s has taken root," reads a passage in Santorum's book. "The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness."

"These things that Rick Santorum is attacking are broadly supported by women and American families," said Tara McGuinness of the Center for American Progress. "It isn't 1952. Most American families have two working parents." Santorum says he's not going to sit back and just take such shots.

On Tuesday, he began running ads on Fox News Channel in Michigan. It was a signal to supporters - and to donors - that Santorum planned to contest the state where Romney grew up and his father served as governor.

Indeed, Santorum told reporters Tuesday night he will "hopefully finish a good strong second" to Romney in Michigan.

"We think we can plant our flag there and do well," he said. Look for Santorum to emphasize his message on manufacturing revival, especially in hard-hit Michigan.

He plans a Thursday economic speech in Detroit, and his advisers see an opening to use Romney's words against him - especially Romney's 2008 New York Times op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

Sensing vulnerability, Romney tried to pre-empt that in an op-ed Tuesday in The Detroit News.

He argued that the government should sell its share in automakers and return the profits to taxpayers.

At the same time, Santorum's advisers are bracing for an onslaught from Romney.

They were largely spared in the last trio of states - Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

"We fully expect his search-and-destroy methods to be put on display. That's his M.O.: instead of focusing on his own record, their first inclination is to tear down his opponent," said Hogan Gidley, Santorum's communications chief.

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