Rick Santorum's three victories last night in Missouri, a non-binding primary, and the Colorado and Missouri caucuses re-energized a campaign that only a few weeks ago, appeared to be running on fumes.

The former Pennsylvania senator's campaign has always been strapped for cash and is hoping that last night's wins will translate into some fresh campaign money from conservative contributors. In his victory speech following last night's impressive trifecta, Santorum did zing rival Mitt Romney, pointing out that Romney and President Barack Obama shared similar positions on health, care, cap and trade and the Wall Street rescue.

But Santorum made sure Obama remained the GOP target.

"I don't stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."

After congratulating Santorum for his victories, Romney predicted that he would be the nominee when the primary process plays out, and he would lead a united GOP charge to make Obama a one-term president.

Of course, Democratic strategists would like nothing better than to see the GOP contenders beating up on each other in a drawn-out primary process. A bitter campaign would provide an opportunity to gather up more juicy sound bites to use against the GOP nominee as the general campaign motors into November.

This has not been a good week for Obama, who has been repeatedly bitten by the dreaded archive, a force which has haunted many a campaign.

Last Sunday, in a pre-Super Bowl TV interview, Obama was asked to defend the statement he made three years ago that if the economy hadn't turned around by this time, his presidency would be "a one-term proposition."

Republicans are quick to point out that grocery and gas prices have surged in the last three years, the cost at the pumps climbing nearly $2 a gallon, from $1.79 when Obama took office to this week's current price of $3.59.

As Obama was defending his record in the NBC interview, a firestorm was already raging over an administration ruling on contraception. More than a few campaign strategists believe that the Obamacare rules covering Catholic hospitals will alienate many voters, including moderate Catholics who may support contraception but don't want the government telling the church how to run its hospitals.

Even more ominous for the administration is the fact that many other highly-volatile issues are expected to surface as more pages of Obamacare are dissected. As more provisions included in this massive bill come to light, the idiotic statement made by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the Democrats were about to ram the bill through congress now resonates: "We have to pass the bill (Obamacare) so you can find out what is in it."

Obama received his third political jolt in three days Tuesday when he reversed his earlier stand on political fundraising or 'super PAC' groups, which he once called a "threat to democracy." Republicans were quick to pounce on Obama for now embracing outside groups who provide special-interest money to the campaigns.

House Speaker John Boehner called Obama's backtrack "just another broken promise."

The power of the sound bite is more real than ever today, and with nine months of hard campaigning ahead, we're just warming up the engine in this presidential election.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com