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Santorum, Jeb Bush Making Way Through North Texas

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two big names in Presidential politics made their way to North Texas Thursday.

One of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination, Rick Santorum, made his second visit here this month.  He shared the spotlight with a man who is still the subject of Presidential rumors, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

On Thursday, Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum met with members of H.I.S. Bridge Builders, a community and religious group in Dallas.

He also held two fundraisers:  one in North Dallas, the other in Westlake.

Santorum says the stops here are crucial to his campaign.  “Texas is a great place for conservatives to raise money, and that’s one of the things we need to do. As I said, we’re being outspent in Michigan right now.”

Santorum is being outspent by Mitt Romney — who’s in a dog fight with Santorum to win the Michigan primary.

After Santorum surged to the top of the polls in Michigan, Romney’s home state, the race has tightened there.

Santorum was asked if he loses Michigan, will that make it much harder for him to win in Ohio on Super Tuesday, March 6th? “I think the fact that we’re even competitive in Michigan is stunning in itself.  If we’re able to win a strong second in Michigan or win Michigan, I think that gives us plenty of momentum to go into Ohio.  This race is going to go a long time past this next week. We feel we’ve done a great job of making this a two person race.”

When asked if he thought it was time for Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race, Santorum said, “That’s up to Newt Gingrich.”

During Wednesday night’s debate, Santorum was booed by the audience when he explained why he voted for former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education law, even though he opposed it.

In Phoenix Thursday, Romney accused Santorum of compromising his principles.

When asked about Romney’s comments, Santorum said, “That’s funny, he supported No Child Left Behind.  This is sort of the funny thing about Governor Romney.  He sends out surrogates to criticize me on votes who supported the same thing I do.  Governor Romney supported No Child Left Behind.  In fact, he has said he wouldn’t repeal No Child Left Behind.  See, I’m different than Governor Romney.  When I make a mistake, I admit it, and I come forth to the American public, and I say you know what, I made a mistake.”

After speaking about education reform before the National Center for Policy Analysis luncheon in Dallas Thursday, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush emphasized the Republican Presidential candidates should be talking about developing a smart education policy in this country, not eliminating the Department of Education.

Mr. Bush said, “I’d like to hear more about how important it is that we create a high growth economy where there’s more prosperity and job creation, that we transform our education system.  And what generally the questions are, what do you think the federal role is?  They answer that, that’s fine.  The policy is how do you transform the education system.”

Bush also cautioned Santorum and the other Republican candidates not to campaign too far to the right.
“I think it’s important for the candidates to recognize though they have to appeal to primary voters, and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition.”

The former Florida Governor also rejected speculation the party would try to recruit him or another candidate if Romney were to lose in Michigan next Tuesday.  He said, “Not going to happen. The party nominee will be amongst the candidates that are in the race now.”

Yet there are a few prominent conservatives, including columnist George Will who are openly questioning whether any of the current Republican candidates are strong enough to beat President Barack Obama this fall.

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