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Bemidji's Joe Dunn, right, delivered three sweater vests produced at Bemidji Woolen Mills to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, right, at the Mesa Marriott Hotel on Wednesday. Pictured from left to right, Sen. Rick Santorum, Karen Garver Santorum, Karen Dunn and Joe Dunn. Submitted Photo
Bemidji's Joe Dunn, right, delivered three sweater vests produced at Bemidji Woolen Mills to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, right, at the Mesa Marriott Hotel on Wednesday. Pictured from left to right, Sen. Rick Santorum, Karen Garver Santorum, Karen Dunn and Joe Dunn. Submitted Photo

Bemidji couple hand deliver sweaters to Santorum in AZ

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum took a break from his campaign to meet Bemidji residents Joe and Karen Dunn Wednesday morning in Mesa, Ariz.

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Santorum met the Dunns at the Mesa Marriott Hotel to receive an assortment of sweater vests made at Bemidji Woolen Mills for his personal collection.

Santorum and his wife, Karen, visited with the Dunns, sending their best to Bemidji before leaving to speak at a Tea Party Rally in Tucson, Ariz.

"He was very personable," Dunn said. "He was very complimentary of his visit to Bemidji. He really feels it helped his campaign."

Santorum and his wife had just attended service for Ash Wednesday and a cross of ash could still be seen on their foreheads.

The Dunns live in Bemidji on Lake Irving most of the year, but they spend four months wintering in Mesa. Joe Dunn, 70, works with Bemidji Woolen Mills as a business advisor while in Bemidji.

When Bill Batchelder, owner of Bemidji Woolen Mills, got a call from Santorum's campaign requesting more sweater vests, he had an idea to give the delivery a more personal touch.

Batchelder sent three sweater vests, colored Navy Blue, Royal Blue and Khaki, overnight to Mesa, where Dunn received them and delivered them to Santorum.

"The campaign was elated that I would offer somebody to deliver the sweaters," Batchelder said. "For Santorum to bring his wife and his whole family to meet Joe and Karen at the Marriott Hotel, it was great. Joe just couldn't believe it."

Two additional sweaters were sent directly to the Marriott to be used in a charity auction.

Santorum visited Bemidji on Feb. 5 during his campaign. The Republican presidential candidate, who was in Arizona ahead of a GOP debate Wednesday night, is doing well in polls following his success in Minnesota and other states.

"He was very cordial and very relaxed," Dunn said. "Republicans are looking for a candidate that can beat Obama, and I think he's the one who can do that."

Santorum told Dunn that Bemidji was a great turnout during his campaign visit and it helped build support in the state.

"The sweater vests are taking off now," Dunn said.

Bemidji Woolen Mills received an order for 2,500 sweater vests on Feb. 16. A total of 3,523 vests have been produced since Jan. 12.

"I fully expect as long as he's in the race that we'll continue to get orders," Batchelder said. "I think it's been an unbelievable thing both for Bemidji and Bemidji Woolen Mills."

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