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Santorum Surging, But Challenges Await Santorum Surging, But Challenges Await

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Santorum Surging, But Challenges Await

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Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum leaves after a campaign stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The best night of his presidential campaign had Rick Santorum setting his sights a little higher than just the next primary. 
"I don't stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," he told a jubilant audience of supporters in Minnesota, whose caucuses handed him one of three eye-popping triumphs Tuesday. "I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."
Eyeing a match-up with the White House seemed preposterous only 24 hours ago for the onetime U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, who was last seen limping to a last-place finish in the Nevada caucuses. But the trio of victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado - the latter of which might count as the shock of the GOP race -- has transformed him overnight into front-runner Mitt Romney's chief rival.
Now, Santorum is faced with a task that has thus far proven insurmountable this primary: Can he sustain his momentum to become a viable, long-term challenger to Romney for the party's nomination? Every other potential anti-Romney candidate - and the race has had at least five who have auditioned for the role - have withered under scrutiny almost as quickly as they surged to the front of the field. 

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