MICHIGAN—Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are considered the frontrunners in Michigan. They spent their cold Saturday in the mitten firing up the heat.
Both are sharply challenging one another's conservative principles as they charge into the tight primary contest here in Romney's home state, a critical election.
At a Tea Party rally in Saint Clair Shores, Santorum took jabs at Romney's health care plan. "I got rid of an entitlement program, as opposed to Governor Romney, who created the biggest entitlement program in Massachusetts and gave us Obamacare as a result," said Santorum.
At a breakfast Saturday morning in Lansing, Romney fired back.
"I think Senator Santorum wishes he could take back what he said," said Romney. "He talked about how he voted for some things because he took one for the team. The team has to be the people of America -- not partisanship."
Both candidates took the stage at the Americans For Prosperity Presidential Forum in Troy, where they both defended their conservative principles.
The candidates have been making their rounds in Michigan all week. Santorum made stops in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland on Monday, while Romney spoke to a group of Western Michigan University students in Kalamazoo Friday evening.
For Romney, Michigan is his home court since he grew up here, but will it help him win the primary?
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll showed Romney leading Santorum in the state 40 to 34 percent. Santorum had been ahead in most Michigan polls for the past couple of weeks.
The candidates will be back in West Michigan this week. Romney has a stop planned on Monday at Byrne Electrical in Rockford. Then he'll head to the east side. Santorum will be at a rally in Kalamazoo Monday evening at 7 p.m.
Ron Paul, while not considered a frontrunner in Michigan, has a steady base and delegates in the race. He made a visit Saturday to Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, where he spoke to thousands of students about foreign policy and government involvement. He'll visit Hudsonville on Sunday.
The only GOP candidate not stopping in Michigan is Newt Gingrich, who is instead focusing his efforts on Arizona, which also holds a primary on Tuesday.
All contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are looking ahead to Super Tuesday on March 6 when 10 states will vote.