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GOP's Santorum will make Aiken stop Monday

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AIKEN --- Coming off the heels of an anti-abortion rally in Columbia, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will continue his South Carolina visit with a stop at the Aiken Republican Club's Monday meeting.

The Pennsylvanian is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and has made eight previous trips to the Palmetto State.

With South Carolina playing host to the first primary in the South, Aiken is becoming stumping grounds for Republican candidates.

In 2008, every major Republican and Democratic presidential candidate visited or sent representatives to Aiken County during their primary campaigns.

"It's outstanding for our club," said President Tony Coffaro. "It's the largest luncheon we've had, with 205 people, and we're sold out."

Coffaro, who has been a club member since 2007, said Santorum's visit helps the club kick off its efforts to bring every "viable" Republican presidential candidate to Aiken, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

"What makes us unique is we offer our members real face time with the candidates," Coffaro said. "They'll meet, greet and get to ask questions."

He said Monday's session might touch on Santorum's anti-abortion stance, but the meeting will also highlight Santorum's Senate record and fiscally conservative background.

"We're all looking forward to hearing his vision for America and what he believes is the best course for our country," Coffaro said. "We're most pleased with giving our members a chance to meet him in person and come away with some knowledge about this man to form their opinions about the next election."

The meeting will begin at 11 a.m. at Newberry Hall in Aiken.


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