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Can Rick Santorum roar back in the Midwest?
Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri are holding GOP presidential contests Tuesday — and surprisingly, Santorum has a real shot at winning the Midwestern pair
Is it time to fear the vest? Polls show that GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has a good shot at beating Mitt Romney in Missouri and Minnesota on Tuesday.
Is it time to fear the vest? Polls show that GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has a good shot at beating Mitt Romney in Missouri and Minnesota on Tuesday.
Justin Dernier/Corbis

"The Republican presidential primary might be ready for another twist," says Alex Roarty at National Journal. As the contest moves back to the Midwest on Tuesday, Rick Santorum appears to be the biggest "not Mitt Romney" in the race. Recent polls put Santorum ahead of Romney in the Minnesota caucuses and Missouri's non-binding "beauty contest" primary, and in second place in Colorado, ahead of Newt Gingrich. Santorum also just scored high-profile endorsements from conservative blogger (and columnist for TheWeek.com) Ed Morrissey and other prominent right-wing opinion-makers, and a backhanded vote of confidence from the Romney camp, which started attacking Santorum for the first time in a month. A virtual nonentity since winning Iowa, is Santorum on the cusp of a Midwest-fueled comeback?

Santorum could really shake up the race: The former Pennsylvania senator is well positioned to win both Minnesota and Missouri, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. Add in Santorum's Iowa win, and Romney would be "zero for three in the nation's most important swing region." If Santorum romps among the Midwest's blue-collar workers and rural evangelicals, like he did in Iowa, he has at least "a coherent path to victory" through the bloc of states that "determine the winners and losers in most presidential elections."
"One test left for Romney: The Midwest"

Romney will quash any Santorum bump: The best evidence we have for a "Santorum surge" is Team Romney trying to bury him, says Molly Ball at The Atlantic. Romney is done taking chances, and his "'attack machine' proved awfully effective when Romney deployed it against Gingrich." And look, even if Tuesday does produce "a couple of freak Santorum wins," it probably won't help much. Remember, there aren't even any delegates at stake in Missouri's "strictly symbolic" contest.
"Is Rick Santorum still a factor in the GOP race?"

It's now or never for Santorum: The Pennsylvanian has this week to prove that he is, in fact, "the final, viable not-Romney candidate left," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. That means winning Minnesota and Missouri, and placing second in Colorado. It also means nailing his speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. The CPAC pitch to conservative activists is his "most critical event of the campaign," and it could net him the cash and grassroots support to take on Romney. That's a long shot, but "much weirder things have happened in this campaign."
"Santorum has his shot"

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