Sunday on Face the Nation: Rick Santorum

This Sunday's guests are Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum and a roundtable with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Todd Spangler of The Detroit Free Press, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson.

The Santorum surge comes to Face the Nation. The former Pennsylvania Senator sits atop many national polls and is leading in many individual states with primaries in the next few weeks, Rick Santorum seems to have become the real anti-Romney and the clear choice of many conservative Republicans.

"Polls come and polls go, we just have to go out and earn it one state at a time and that's what we're doing, we're going one state at a time," said Santorum this week.

But the polls are showing signs that the current surge will have lasting effects on the race. Not only is Santorum leading former Massachusetts Governor, and current delegate leader, Mitt Romney nationally, 30 percent to 27 percent in the latest CBS News/New York Times Poll, he's leading in double digits over Romney in support among conservatives, tea party supporters and evangelical Christians. Santorum is also leading Romney among those Republican voters who say he best represents their values and would provide the most help to the middle class. Romney is winning among those who want the best candidate to beat President Obama. But having strong moral character and true conservative values are the most important issues to voters sampled, with defeating Obama now last among most important issues.

"Rick's having a great week and I think you have to respect him for it and he's worked hard for it and we'll see how the next two weeks evolve," said one time front runner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Riding the wave, Santorum is running a few positive and one creatively negative ad against Romney, especially in Romney's home state of Michigan. Not only was Romney born there, but his father was Governor in the 1960s. A Santorum win there, and polls show he's leading there, could be devastating to Romney. Santorum has been hitting Romney for the kind of attack dog politics that many voters are turned off by.

"Where I disagree with governor Romney I lay out my disagreements but I don't lay out hypocritical politics for accusing, going out and lambasting someone for something that I did. That's the kind of politics I think that people have soured of very very quickly," he said.

One issue that's come to play in Michigan is the federal government's auto bailout. Santorum is quick to point out that he was against the entire government bailout of wall street and the auto industry while Romney opposed the bailout for General Motors and Chrysler, but backed the Wall Street money.

"Governor Romney supported the bailout of Wall Street, and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit. My feeling was that we should not support, the government should not be involved in bailouts period. I think that's a much more consistent position," said Santorum speaking to the Economic Club of Detroit.

Before he was Governor of Michigan, Romney's father ran American Motors Company, a tie to the industry that Romney has been reminding Michigan voters of in television ads and every chance he gets.

"I love cars, I love American cars, and long may they rule the world let me tell you," he said yesterday.

Can Santorum's surge continue? Can he win Michigan and key states in the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries? What would a defeat mean for Romney? Will the resurgent economy, with record US auto industry profits, help the President's re-election chances? What does a dragged out Republican battle mean for the eventual nominee's chances in the fall?

Those will be among the issues as Rick Santorum joins Bob Schieffer to Face the Nation.

  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

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