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Santorum: 'We were able to pull off the impossible' in MI

POWELL, TN -- The morning after a narrow popular-vote loss to Mitt Romney in his rival's home state of Michigan, Rick Santorum painted the outcome as a draw and predicted a strong performance in next week's Super Tuesday contests.

"We actually won half the congressional districts so we are going to walk out of Michigan with 15 delegates and he's going to walk out of Michigan with 15 delegates," he told an audience of around 1000 supporters at a Baptist church outside of Knoxville. 

"We have a lot of wind at our back heading here to Tennessee and we are going to be taking it all across these Super Tuesday states and we're going to have a great day a week from yesterday!" he added.

The actual delegate count is not yet finalized, according to NBC News. By the network's count, each candidate has accumulated 13 delegates in Michigan, with the final calculations in some congressional districts still to be completed.

Speaking to reporters after the rally, Santorum called the outcome "a huge win for us" and dismissed a reporter's question about his loss to Romney among Catholic voters in last night's Michigan exit polls.

"You want to talk about one segment of the population?" he said, smiling and rolling his eyes. "Come on... This is a huge win for us. Let's play it the way it is. Don't give Romney all the spin!"

Santorum argued that Romney -- who outspent his opponents by a wide margin in his home state -- won the popular vote because of a heavy advantage only in Oakland County, the Detroit suburb where Romney grew up.

"We went into Michigan -- I don't know if you guys are listening -- we went into Michigan and we were able to pull off the impossible!" he told the press.

The Pennsylvania senator's top political adviser, John Brabender, underscored the point on a conference call held during Santorum's address to the church audience.

"Michigan is a lot different than when you went to bed last night," he said. "A tie can only be seen as a disaster for Mitt Romney."

Conference calls to brief the press are a rarity for the Santorum campaign, which is anxious to maintain the narrative that their candidate is still threatening Romney's front-runner status. While reporters asked about other topics, Brabender and national communications director Hogan Gidley were quick to keep the attention on the Michigan outcome.

"We're also trying to avoid another Iowa," Gidley said, referring to the Hawkeye State's caucus results that showed a Santorum victory after a weeks-long recount.