Rick Santorum Wins Colorado & Minnesota Caucuses, Missouri Primary to Shake Up GOP Race Again

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Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a non-binding primary in Missouri on Tuesday night, an unexpected sweep that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to win the Republican presidential nomination.

On the flip side, it may help Romney inadvertently.

With Santorum emerging as competition to Newt Gingrich as the principal alternative to Romney, voters continue to veer among candidates but have not coalesced behind one consistently, often leaving Romney ahead almost by default.

Rick Santorum Pic

Gingrich has won one state, South Carolina. Santorum has now won four, including Iowa. Romney won New Hampshire January 10 and then back-to-back victories in Florida and Nevada that had led to predictions that he was inevitable.

Not so fast.

The results on Tuesday shook the political world, though it is an open question whether they are a momentary embarrassment or a prolonged setback Romney.

Romney goes into the next round of primaries and caucuses much better financed than his opponents in what will be much more of a nationwide campaign.

Arizona and Michigan vote February 28, followed by 11 "Super Tuesday" competitions on March 6. But the enthusiasm in the race is no longer his alone.

Santorum’s win in Missouri was symbolic and does not affect the awarding of delegates, which will be decided at district and state conventions later this year.

More Republicans participated in the Missouri primary than in the Nevada caucuses, however, and his victory over Mitt in Colorado was a genuine upset.

Combined with the victory in Minnesota, it gave him an important lift that his campaign hoped would translate into an infusion of new donations and support.

The margin in Colorado was relatively close, with Santorum winning 40.2 percent to Romney's 34.9, with Gingrich at 12.8 and Ron Paul fourth at 11.8.

In Minnesota, though, Santorum won 44.8 percent and Ron Paul 27.2 percent, a strong second that blew past Romney's 16.9 - Paul's first "win" over Mitt.

It was Santorum's night, though, and he told cheering supporters at his headquarters in St. Charles, Mo., that he's setting his sights higher than Romney.

“I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” he said. “I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

Minnesota Caucus Results

  1. Rick Santorum 44.8%
  2. Ron Paul 27.2  
  3. Mitt Romney 16.9  
  4. Newt Gingrich 10.7  
  5. Others 0.3  

Colorado Caucus Results

  1. Santorum 40.2%
  2. Romney 34.9  
  3. Gingrich 12.8  
  4. Paul 11.8  
  5. Others 0.3 
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Wow, how can a crazy man like this get results like that in the heartland? If he becomes the Republican nominee, (which I doubt he will as other states have more brains), I will vote for Obama over Santorum. My choice of the Republicans is 1. Ron Paul or 2. Mitt Romney. Then Obama...Not Newt or Rick to be sure!