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Daily Santorum: Friess takes the stage

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The Santorum campaign is looking "at a broader political map," as Jim O'Toole writes, and a some more headlines. As we mentioned yesterday, Santorum looks to be focusing on Michigan, somewhat surprisingly, as well as following the money trail to Texas.

Lead SuperPAC backer Foster Friess -- last seen beaming behind his candidate at his Missouri victory speech -- is getting more attention too. Says the NYT in an A1 story today, about the man who supported Mitt Romney four years ago:

"His role as outside funder — one that Mr. Friess indicated he would continue to play in the contests ahead — escalates the battle among a few dozen wealthy Republicans to influence their party’s choice of a presidential nominee."

Friess's PAC has also underwritten support for endorsements, including the much-ballyhooed* one from evangelical leader Bob Vander Platts in Iowa. From Politico:

Take the Leaders For Families Super PAC, which is associated with influential Iowa Christian conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats. It was established in December, and quickly raked in $150,000. Half of that came from the Red, White and Blue Fund, a pro-Santorum super PAC, whose biggest backer, the Wyoming investor Friess, also donated $50,000 to Leaders For Families.

It used the cash to air radio and television ads and place automated telephone calls touting the endorsement of Santorum by Vander Plaats, who — in the run-up to Santorum’s Iowa caucus win — reportedly told the candidate he “needed money to promote the endorsement.”

At the end of last year, Leaders For Families reported debts of $6,500 to Vander Plaats “for professional services for fundraising, media production and media relations” and $175 to his non-profit group The Family Leader for “office supplies, phone usage.”

Friess seems to like the attention -- check out a collection of videos he's done on YouTube, via Buzzfeed.

The campaign claims it's raised $1 million since Tuesday night (ABC News)

From the left: Santorum seems to be taking advantage of Romney's relentless negativity, says E.J. Dionne, while David Firestone at the NYT takes the same ball and runs a different direction:

Rick Santorum’s three primary victories [Tuesday] night were the first ones in this campaign season that made some sense. At last, conservative voters united behind a candidate who actually resembles the Republican Party that Americans have come to know in the last three years.

. . . Mr. Santorum is the only one of the three who can actually appear heartfelt when asserting, as he did today on Morning Joe, that “the central issue of the day is government oppressing and taking away our economic freedoms.” For him, as for the true believers who now dominate his party, this isn’t just a cynically crowd-pleasing line at a debate; he actually subscribes to the notion that the federal government is stalking its own citizens and mugging them of free choice, and he has for years.

CPAC starts today. Santorum speaks tomorrow morning.

* A word that belongs on this list, we know.

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