Rick Santorum rallies his troops in Iowa: 'Fire the first shot. Do not miss.'

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — A surging Rick Santorum Sunday afternoon told Iowans here that their children and grandchildren would ask them, "What did you do in 2012 when freedom was at stake?"

That freedom was being endangered, he had stated earlier, by the Obama administration.

He added: "You here in Iowa are the Lexington and Concord. You are the ones who [can] fire the first shot. Do not miss. Do not miss."

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Politicians have mostly steered clear of metaphors involving guns and weaponry since the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) almost one year ago. In the wake of that event, in which six people were killed and Giffords was left with a life-threatening brain injury, there were many calls for a more civil tone in public debate.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in particular, came in for particular criticism for her decision to publish a map in the run-up to the 2010 congressional elections that had crosshairs atop vulnerable Democratic-held districts, including that of Giffords.

This is the second time in two days that Santorum, who appears to have the wind at his back in the final run-in to Tuesday's caucuses, has used unusual language in making his case to Iowan voters.

Late Saturday afternoon, he accused President Obama of engaging in "class warfare, ethnic warfare, whatever you want to call it." He did not go on to specify exactly what he meant by "ethnic warfare."

During Sunday afternoon's appearance in this small city in northwestern Iowa's Sioux County, Santorum also invoked, and slightly misquoted, Michelle Obama's controversial remarks during the 2008 campaign about pride in America. Santorum stated that Obama said she was, for the first time in her life, "proud to be an American."

He added, referring to Obama and her husband, "These are not people who see America the way people in Sioux County see America."