‘Rick Santorum has never been considered a go-to guy for Big Business on Capitol Hill. After all, some corporate types are nervous about his blue-collar roots, his populist proclivities, and his emphasis on religious issues.” So began a Business Week story in January 2006. At the time, Santorum was scrambling to raise money for his reelection campaign against Democrat Bob Casey, a race he ultimately lost. Six years later, however, the perception persists. And at least one corporate type — Mitt Romney — is nervous about Santorum’s rising Rust Belt appeal.
According to the latest polls, Santorum continues to surge in recession-plagued Michigan, which will hold its primary in late February. In the Great Lakes State’s factory towns, where closed auto plants and shuttered strip-mall stores dot the landscape, Santorum’s gritty, middle-class rhetoric is resonating. An American Research Group poll of likely Republican voters has Santorum up by six points, 33 percent to Romney’s 27 percent. A Public Policy Polling survey shows an even larger margin: Santorum leads Romney by 15 points, 39 percent to 24 percent.
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