Once thought to be an easy win for native son Mitt Romney, the Michigan primary has instead turned into one of the stiffest tests for the Republican presidential front-runner — and an unexpected opportunity for the surging campaign of Rick Santorum.

After his surprising sweep of three states last week, Santorum is targeting the Feb. 28 contest, seeing in Michigan the combination of working-class and socially conservative voters on which he has based his campaign. And in Michigan, the former senator from Pennsylvania looks like he will get the one-on-one match-up with Romney that he has been craving — as long as Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul continue to largely look past the state.

The Romney and Santorum campaigns began their battle in earnest on Tuesday, with both beginning new ad campaigns — Romney playing up his Michigan roots and Santorum arguing that he would be a more clear contrast to President Obama in November.

Santorum, who has moved into a virtual tie with Romney in polling nationwide, including in Michigan, plans to give a major economic address before the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday. Romney will deliver his own economic speech to the group next week.

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