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GOP campaign with "Made in Bemidji" threads coming to northern Minnesota

The Bemidji Woolen Mills staff poses with the Santorum sweaters handmade at the Bemidji business. Shown above are employees, in front, Bonnie Bush, Shirley Moe and owner Bill Batchelder, and, in back, George Karels, Donna Willberg, Sue Tammaro, Agnes Jourdain, Natasha Trett, model Bryce Oakes and employee Keith Johnson. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will bring his "Made in America" message Sunday to Bemidji and plans a community photo at the Paul and Babe statues.

Details for public events, including a rally at the Sanford Center, are underway.

The Sunday afternoon visit will include stops at Bemidji Woolen Mills, which is producing sweater vests for Santorum's campaign, and Cool Threads, which is embroidering Santorum's campaign logo on the vests.

All events will be open to the public, although space at the businesses will be limited, said Bill Batchelder, owner of Bemidji Woolen Mills. The plant is finishing up an order for 1,000 vests and expects to make another 1,000.

"If there's one thing that's going to define Rick Santorum, it's going to be his 'Main Street America' campaign... He's doing that through the sweater vests," Batchelder said today.

The public is invited to the Paul and Babe statues for a community photo, which will be taken before Santorum's speech at the Sanford Center.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, was declared the winner in last month's Iowa caucuses. He will visit Minnesota in advance of Super Tuesday and the state's caucuses. The special Santorum-embroidered sweater vests are given to those who donate $100 or more to the campaign.

Batchelder said he's received emails from the Santorum campaign about the quality of the Bemidji-made vests. Talks about a Bemidji visit began last week, but the stop was verbally confirmed Tuesday before Batchelder received official word this morning.

Check back to for details.

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

(701) 780-1104