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Santorum Focuses on Reaching Out to Women

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) -- Before Tuesday's race had been called in Mitt Romney's favor, Rick Santorum gave an address in Michigan during the state's primary night that focused on the mistakes he has made over the past week.

“A month ago they didn’t know who we are, but they do now,” Santorum said, flanked by his wife, eldest daughter Elizabeth, and son John.  ”We came to the backyard of one of my opponents, in a race where people said, ‘You know, just ignore it, you’re going to have no chance here.’  And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates, and all I have to say is, ‘I love you back.’”

The crowd was enthusiastic, with one man shouting, “I love you,” but there was a sad tone in the air that began even before Santorum and his family took the stage, as the theme song to The Natural played.

Santorum mentioned his 93-year-old mother, something he hasn’t in previous speeches, and he told the audience in what seemed to be a pitch to female voters who might feel put off by some of his previous comments about women in the workplace, that his mother made more money than his father.

“She was someone who did get a job in the 1930s and was a nurse, and worked full time.  She continued to work through my childhood years,” Santorum said to the crowd that was heavy on families with young children.  “She balanced time working different schedules.  A professional who made more money than her husband.”

Santorum’s mother was a nurse and his father was a psychologist for the Veteran’s Administration.

The former Pennsylvania senator also touted his wife’s work experience, saying she was a “professional” as well, and thanked his daughter, Elizabeth, who has been on the campaign trail with him since the early days in Iowa.

“[Karen] worked as a nurse, but after we got married, she decided to walk away, yet didn’t quit working.  She was a mother and also wrote two books,” Santorum said.

He spent most of his speech repeating the themes he does on the stump, including his mention of the Declaration of Independence, but Tuesday evening there was a twist on that too.

“The men and women who signed that declaration wrote the final phrase, ‘We pledge to each other our lives, our fortune, and our sacred honor,” Santorum said.

There were no women who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Longtime Santorum strategist John Brabender said it wasn’t a direct appeal, but more about mentioning and thanking other people in the candidate’s life besides his grandfather, who Santorum consistently talks about on the trail.  Brabender did acknowledge they have to “struggle with misperceptions” and said that is “something we will always be doing.”

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