After 3 Wins, Santorum Campaign Moves To Texas

One day after winning caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, as well as a "beauty contest" primary in Missouri, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum traveled to Texas for a series of campaign appearances. He met with evangelical pastors in the morning and members of the Tea Party in the afternoon.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Rick Santorum headed in a different direction after his wins on Tuesday.

Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: North Texas was a good choice for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to keep his campaign's momentum going. He met with evangelical pastors in the morning, Tea Partiers in the afternoon and a Republican women's group at night.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is our pleasure to introduce to you Rick Santorum. Give him a Texas welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

RICK SANTORUM: It's great to be in Texas. I can't think of a better place to be.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

SANTORUM: Can't think of a better place to be to celebrate the victory for conservatives that we had in Minnesota and in Missouri and in the State of Colorado last night, where conservatives were heard.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GOODWYN: Santorum started off by focusing on President Obama, describing him as weak on defense.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

SANTORUM: It's about a president who is an appeaser-in-chief, someone who has been betraying - and I say that word deliberately - betraying some of the best allies that we have, maybe our best ally in Israel.

GOODWYN: The former Pennsylvania senator described a country divided into two.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

SANTORUM: You look at the map of this country, and you look at where the traditional values are still held, and you'll see a sea of red.

GOODWYN: Santorum focused mostly on social issues. And while he talked about the need for more jobs, his statements tended more toward the general than the specific.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

SANTORUM: People say, Rick, you're a social conservative and, you know, you need to talk more about the economy. Strong families and building a strong family unit is good for the economy.

GOODWYN: With his victories on Tuesday, Santorum has moved up from an also-ran to perhaps the top challenger to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. And last night, he began to draw distinctions - for example, the issue of health care.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)

SANTORUM: The other major candidate in this race, Governor Romney, his plan is exactly ObamaCare. I've studied it. I've looked at it. In every major way, it is exactly ObamaCare. We need to have someone who's going to go out and paint that vision of what America looks like, versus Barack Obama. We need to make him and his failed policies the issue in this race. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm the best candidate to do that.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GOODWYN: Maine is the next state up in the GOP primary. But Santorum has done precious little campaigning there, and Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are the undisputed favorites, at least for now.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

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