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Santorum plugs Bemidji Woolen Mills in concession speech

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum ended his presidential run in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, thanking campaign volunteers and regaling stories from the campaign trail — among them, his trip to Bemidji Woolen Mills, the manufacturer of his famed sweater vests.

Santorum's sweater vests were a thing of legend on the campaign trail, so much so that at one point during his presidential run, Santorum was offering a sweater vest to anyone who donated $100 to his campaign. When he visited Bemidji Woolen Mills in February, its workers were filling an order for 1,000 sweater vests embossed with Santorum's custom logo.

Here's how Santorum (clad in a black suit, blue shirt and red tie, but, incidentally, no sweater vest) told the tale:

Amazing thing that sweater vest. It happened on a night I was doing an event for Mike Huckabee in Des Moines. I showed up and everybody was in shirts and ties and I showed up in a sweater vest. Turned out I gave a pretty good speech that night, and all of a sudden the Twitterverse went wild, saying it must be the sweater vest. From that point on, the sweater vest became the official wardrobe of the Santorum campaign.

And the cool thing was, obviously a big part of our campaign was the manufacturing base of the economy, so we of course sourced that sweater vest in a company that was making them here in the United States. We ended up going to that little company up in Bemidji, Minn., in the middle of winter, it was a beautiful day and we got the chance to see that little plant that had been around for almost 100 years.

It turned out we were the best customer that Bemidji Woolen Mills has ever had, in their entire history.

Santorum's sweater vests were so much a part of his persona that minutes after his announcement on Tuesday, #sweatervest was briefly the number one trending topic on Twitter in the United States.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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