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Santorum tells Michigan: I’m the one who can beat Obama

By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press –

DETROIT — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he may not be from Michigan, but his Pennsylvania roots make him at least close to the hearts of Michiganders.

As a result, he said, he offers the best chance to beat President Barack Obama in November.

“I’ve always run as a conservative,” Santorum told a crowd of about 1,500 people packed into the Palazzo Grande banquet center in Shelby Township on Friday. “If you’re looking for the candidate in this race who has been the most successful — he happens to be here.”

He said he knows he’s going to be outspent. And he figures the national media will be against him, but that doesn’t matter.

“Do you want someone who can go up against Barack Obama and take on Obamacare, cap and trade and government control of your lives? Or do you want someone who can manage Washington a little better?” Santorum said in a dig at his main opponent, Michigan native Mitt Romney.

The audience jumped up and gave him a standing ovation.

He told them his main reason for getting into the race is to repeal health care reform.

“The rich inheritance you’ve been given is at stake,” he said. “They want to control you because, like the kings of old, they think they know better than you.”

Ross and Sharon Baumann, both 60, of Macomb Township already voted by absentee ballot for Santorum in Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary.

“Romney is too much of a flip- flopper,” Sharon Baumann said. “He’s changed his mind too many times.”

The event was sponsored by the Michigan Faith and Freedom Coalition, three Macomb County tea party groups and the county Republican Party. The rally was punctuated by gospel singing and speeches by ministers.

Santorum stoked the fervor by talking about the recent kerfuffle over birth control.

“They’ve tried to make an issue about contraception,” Santorum said. “But it’s not about contraception. It’s about your constitutional rights.”

The message resonated with Susan Schudt, 42, of Macomb Township.

“I love him. He walks the talk. I’m a mom of six kids, so I share values with Santorum,” she said.

Her husband works in the auto industry and her family has benefitted from the federal bailout, but Santorum’s opposition to it doesn’t bother her.

“In general, I think he’ll have an answer for the economy,” Schudt said.

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