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The Brief: Feb. 9, 2012

After roaring back to life on Tuesday, Rick Santorum has a plan to win the Republican presidential nomination — and it may involve Texas.

Rick Santorum walking onstage at the CNN debate in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 19, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

After roaring back to life on Tuesday, Rick Santorum has a plan to win the Republican presidential nomination — and it may involve Texas.

As The New York Times reports, Santorum — who shook the political world Tuesday by defeating Mitt Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri — has begun shifting his campaign from a small effort focused on a few states to a national campaign ready to take on Newt Gingrich and Romney, the front-runner.

He plans to compete with Romney in the former Massachusetts governor's home state, Michigan, which votes Feb. 28, and in Gingrich's home state, Georgia, which votes March 6.

Santorum's strategy may also include a play for Texas, on which Gingrich has been pinning his hopes for a comeback. (Though the state's redistricting fight may ultimately force the state to push back its primary date, elections remain scheduled for April 3.)

“We don’t intend to be a regional player,” John Brabender, a senior Santorum adviser, told the Times.

And the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania may have offered a preview of such a campaign as he swept through North Texas on a fundraising swing Wednesday.

In front of a group of ministers at a church in McKinney in the morning, he touted his opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage. In Plano, he told a crowd of 2,000 that Barack Obama had restricted religious freedom in the country, potentially inciting upheaval on the scale of the French Revolution. 

"What’s left is a government that gives you rights," he said. "What’s left are no unalienable rights. What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we are a long way from that, but if we do follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road."

The Santorum campaign announced it had raised almost $1 million since Tuesday night.

Culled:

  • Craig James, the former ESPN analyst now running for U.S. Senate, has endorsed Rick Santorum for president, according to The Dallas Morning News. James, who previously supported Rick Perry, met with Santorum in Dallas on Wednesday and released a statement afterward saying: "Rick actually encouraged me during the time I was contemplating my own run for office. About 18 months ago I met with Rick in Washington, D.C. During our dinner together, we discussed our families and the importance of preserving our religious freedom and strong social values. Rick has a fundamental understanding of the Constitution and the God-given rights recognized in our founding document."
  • In Maine, which began its weeklong caucuses last weekend and will announce results on Saturday, the race appears to have narrowed to a two-man contest between Mitt Romney, in search of a win after losing three states to Rick Santorum on Tuesday, and Ron Paul, the only candidate who campaigned in the state before its caucuses began. According to The Associated Press, Romney has planned a visit to the state at the end of the week in hopes of avoiding a fourth straight loss, and Paul will visit the state Friday for the second time this year.
  • As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, the Texas Medical Board, meeting Friday to consider rules governing adult stem cell treatments, has received input from several leaders and lawmakers, including Rick Perry, a biomedical entrepreneur who has contributed heavily to his campaigns, and an orthopedist who injected Perry and another state lawmaker with their own stem cells.

"For the election officials, they start their day and end their day on the internet. It's all-consuming."Jacquelyn Callanen, the Bexar County elections administrator, to the San Antonio Express-News on tracking the latest developments in the state's redistricting fight

Must-Read:

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