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Rick Santorum Swinging for a Double

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rick Santorum could be the latest candidate to regain momentum in the Republican primary carousel as he's shown resilience in a state that has a huge Mitt Romney backer and in another state that is staging a "beauty contest."

There is a good likelihood that either Minnesota or Missouri, or both, could tip in Santorum's favor by late Tuesday night as the former Pennsylvania senator's message seems to have finally resonated for the first time since his Iowa caucus victory.

Rick Santorum

"It's nice when you are on the front-end of some attacks coming from the perceived front-runner in this race," a Santorum operative in Missouri said in an interview. "We're going to do well in the states where the Reagan Democrats are very strong."

Romney's campaign targeted Santorum almost immediately after the former Massachusetts governor's Nevada caucus victory as it became more apparent that Minnesota was leaning in Santorum's favor and that Missouri was shaping up to be a close race.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- who joined Romney's campaign shortly after he dropped from the race -- held a conference call on Monday to criticize Santorum's record on pork-barrel spending and earmarks, but Pawlenty merely fueled speculation that things didn't look so promising in his home state for the front-runner.

"I can't tell you who's gonna come out on top, but I think ... it will be packed together," Pawlenty said in the call. "I think Mitt will be competitive, but it's hard to tell who's gonna be the person on the top of that pack."

Another Santorum operative said in an interview that Romney had been cancelling events in Minnesota and ramping up the Colorado appearances on his schedule. The two latest Colorado polls showed the former governor with double-digit leads, but inside the Santorum camp they've said it could be considered a solid showing if Santorum cuts into the 60% of votes Romney received there in 2008.

Santorum's lead in Minnesota jumped to a nine-percentage-point advantage from just two percentage points between polls released Monday and Tuesday. A Romney win in Colorado and a Santorum victory in Minnesota would leave all eyes on Missouri.

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