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Associated Press, Published February 07 2012

Looking to reset campaign, Santorum hits 3 states including Minn.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Looking for a campaign-boosting win Tuesday, Republican Rick Santorum urged supporters to reset the Republican presidential race and deny the aura of inevitability to front-runner Mitt Romney. Santorum also said they must reject President Barack Obama's secular policies.

"You've got a big caucus tonight," Santorum said at the start of a three-state swing that included stops in Minnesota and Missouri, where he would await election results. Colorado and Minnesota hold GOP caucuses Tuesday. Missouri has a nonbinding primary, followed by caucuses next month.

"If you look at the polls, today could be a very good day for conservatives," the former Pennsylvania senator said.

Santorum began a busy campaign day in the Christian conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs, home base for the Christian group Focus on the Family, whose leader has endorsed Santorum.

Citing the Obama administration's recent requirement that church-affiliated employers cover birth control for their workers, he told a gathering that Obama was trampling on their faith and forcing them to live according to his secular worldview.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's not just your economic rights," said Santorum, a Catholic, vowing to make the issue a centerpiece of his White House bid. "It's your freedom of religion. It's your freedom of speech."

Santorum largely bypassed last week's contests in Florida and Nevada to lay the groundwork for Tuesday's trio of states. He's been aggressively criticizing rivals Romney and Newt Gingrich and holding himself out as the candidate best able to defeat Obama.

Santorum was the victor in Iowa, but since has chalked up four consecutive losses.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.