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Santorum, Romney battle for Michigan

MUSKEGON, Mich. — With a new poll hinting at a tightening race in the pivotal Michigan primary a week from today, Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum tried to stoke blue-collar resentments Monday in the conservative western part of the state.

The former senator from Pennsylvania is aiming to upset Mitt Romney in one of Romney's strongholds. Santorum told supporters in the gritty Great Lakes harbor town of Muskegon that he was anticipating "what could be a sound heard round the world here in Michigan."

Attacking "the elite in society" and what he called President Barack Obama's "radical environmental ideology," Santorum accused the administration of posing "a false choice" between protecting natural resources and stimulating U.S. economic growth.

"It's a choice that wants to limit your productivity, limit your ability to rise in society, limit your quality of life, so they can control the resources that you get," he told an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred, referring to Obama's plans for attacking global warming. "That's what cap and trade was all about."

Romney, in a sign of the high stakes in Michigan, scheduled a town hall meeting today in the suburbs of Detroit, one day ahead of the final nationally televised debate before 14 states choose Republican national convention delegates over the next two weeks.

Gingrich talks gasoline prices

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dangled the prospect Monday of gas as low as $2 a gallon if he's elected.

The former House speaker has spoken in the past of gas dropping to $2.50 a gallon.

Speaking in Tulsa, Okla., he said: "With Gingrich policies, what we know is we will dramatically expand our independence in the world market, dramatically expand our capacity to produce energy without regard to our foreign potential enemies and in the process prices will clearly be a lot lower. Now, I picked $2.50 as a stabilizing price for capital investment reasons. It could … go down to $2."

The Oklahoma primary is March 6.

Paul talks hemp, federal regulation

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul praised hemp as an alternative crop and said a free-market approach would protect the nation's environment Monday during North Dakota campaign stops that drew hundreds of cheering supporters.

Paul criticized the federal government's ban on the cultivation of industrial hemp, a crop that is related to marijuana but does not have its mind-affecting properties. Industrial hemp is used to make paper, lotions, clothing and biofuels in some countries.

North Dakota holds caucuses on March 6.

Information from the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

Santorum, Romney battle for Michigan 02/20/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 11:14pm]

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