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Archive for Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jubilant Santorum sweeps Minnesota and Colorado

February 7, 2012, 9:41 p.m. Updated February 8, 2012, 12:34 a.m.

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A resurgent Rick Santorum won Republican presidential caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday night, a stunning sweep that raised fresh questions about front-runner Mitt Romney’s appeal among the ardent conservatives at the core of the party’s political base.

Santorum triumphed, as well, in a nonbinding Missouri primary that was worth bragging rights but no national convention delegates.

“Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,” the jubilant former Pennsylvania senator told cheering supporters in St. Charles, Mo. Challenging both his GOP rival and the Democratic president, he declared that on issues ranging from health care to “Wall Street bailouts, Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama.”

Returns from 83 percent of Minnesota’s precincts showed Santorum with 45 percent support, Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 27 percent and Romney — who won the state in his first try for the nomination four years ago — with 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailed with 11 percent.

It was closer in Colorado, where returns from all the precincts showed Santorum with 40 percent of the vote to 35 for Romney. Gingrich had 13, and Paul claimed 12 percent.

Romney showed no sign of disappointment in remarks to supporters.

“This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Sen. Santorum, but I expect to become the nominee with your help,” he told supporters in Denver.

If the night was good for Santorum, it was grim for Gingrich, who made scant effort in any of the states that voted during the day. He ran far off the pace in both caucus states, forced to watch from the sidelines while Santorum boasted of being the candidate with conservative appeal.

There were 37 Republican National Convention delegates at stake in Minnesota and 33 more in Colorado, and together, they accounted for the largest one-day combined total so far in the race for the GOP nomination.

The victories were the first for Santorum since he eked out a 34-vote win in the lead-off Iowa caucuses a month ago, and he reveled in the moment. “I don’t stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama,” he told his supporters.

He had faded far from the lead in the primaries and caucuses since, and Gingrich seemed to eclipse him as the leading conservative rival to Romney when he won the South Carolina primary late last month.

While Romney throttled back after victories in Florida and Nevada in the past several days, Santorum campaigned aggressively in all three states on the ballot, seeking a breakthrough to revitalize his campaign.

He won Minnesota largely the way he did Iowa, dispatching his organizers from the first state to the second and courting pastors and tea party leaders alike.

Romney’s campaign moved swiftly to take the sting out of the Missouri vote. The state’s Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a Romney supporter, congratulated the winner but noted the state’s delegates are still up for grabs. He said, “Mitt Romney has the organization and the resources to go the distance in this election, and I believe he’ll ultimately win our party’s nomination.”

And it was not clear where Santorum could exploit his victory. Aides have already said he has little hope in Maine caucuses that end this weekend, the next event on the calendar.

Paul, a Texas lawmaker, has yet to win a primary or caucus. He claimed credit for a strong second-place finish in Minnesota and said he was optimistic about his chances in Maine.

Romney began the day the leader in the delegate chase, with 101 of the 1,144 needed to capture the nomination at the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa. Gingrich had 32, Santorum 17 and Paul nine.

Though the delegate total on Tuesday was high, the campaigning was a pale comparison to the Iowa caucuses or primaries last month in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Television advertising was sparse; neither Colorado nor Minnesota hosted a candidates’ debate, and there was relatively little campaigning by the contenders themselves until the past few days.

The same was true in last weekend’s Nevada caucuses, which Romney won on the heels of a Florida primary victory days earlier. The same pattern holds in Maine.

Not until primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28 is the campaign likely to regain the intensity that characterized the first few weeks of the year.

Then it roars back to life with a 10-state Super Tuesday on March 6 with 416 convention delegates at stake. Georgia, where Gingrich launched his career in Congress, is the biggest prize that night with 76 delegates. Next is Ohio, which has 63 delegates at stake and where early voting has already begun.

Santorum, in particular, was eager to seize the relative lull to redeem the promise of his Iowa victory.

He campaigned more aggressively this week than any of the other contenders, and he spent Tuesday hopscotching from Colorado to Minnesota to Missouri in hopes of nailing down at least one victory. Touting himself as a true conservative — a slap at Gingrich — he sought to undermine Romney’s electability claim at the same time by predicting the former Massachusetts governor would lose to Obama.

Romney responded by assailing Santorum as an advocate of congressional earmarks — shifting the criticism he had leveled at Gingrich when the Georgian seemed a more imposing threat.

In the hours before the caucuses convened, the front-runner sought to lower expectations.

“Mitt Romney is not going to win every contest,” Rich Beeson, the campaign’s political director, wrote in a memo for public consumption.

“John McCain lost 19 states in 2008, and we expect our opponents will notch a few wins, too,” Beeson wrote. McCain, the Arizona senator, won the Republican nomination four years ago.

In fact, Colorado and Minnesota were among the states that McCain failed to win, and he lost them to Romney.

In the four years since, the GOP has become more conservative in both. That posed a challenge for Romney, who runs as the Republican most likely to defeat Obama and is still trying to establish his credentials among tea party activists suspicious of a one-time moderate who backed abortion rights.

Two years ago in Minnesota, establishment candidates for governor were swept aside in the primary, and tea party-backed insurgents for governor and the Senate in Colorado won the party nominations.

In Romney prevailed in both Minnesota and Colorado in 2008, the first time he ran for the nomination, but the GOP has become more conservative in both states since then under the influence of tea party activists. And he lacked the overwhelming advantage in television advertising, including fiercely negative attacks on his rivals, that had helped him in other states this year.

Gingrich spent the day campaigning in Ohio, one of the primary states on March 6.

His campaign went into a downward spiral after he won the South Carolina primary in an upset. The former speaker was routed in the Florida primary to Romney, then finished a distant second in Nevada over the weekend. all three cases, Democrats won in the general election that fall.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 10 months ago

The religious Reich is not dead yet. Beware!

DillonBarnes 2 years, 10 months ago

Though I'm not a big fan of any of the presidential candidates (of either party), Santorum is the only one who truly scares me.

ljwhirled 2 years, 10 months ago

Missouri - We love Santorum! Give us more Santorum!

Joe Hyde 2 years, 10 months ago

A non-binding primary that locks up no convention delegates? Why did Missouri Republicans even bother doing this?

DillonBarnes 2 years, 10 months ago

Well they have to make the news somehow, meth records will only get you so far.

grammaddy 2 years, 10 months ago

And Lord knows their school system is NOT a priority.

Jake Esau 2 years, 10 months ago

Missouri state law requires a primary to be held in February, but the national republican party threatened to take away their delegates if they assigned them before March. That is why they are doing caucuses again in March.

This whole primary/caucus system is dumb. There should just be one nation wide primary day so that all the states have a more equal weight in determining the nominee.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 10 months ago

No matter what the republican facist candidates say, the new national health system (humorously referred to as "Obamacare") is already benefiting people and if the republicans grandstaniding to the tea party and extreme right wing nuts try to take away the benefits already created, they will feel the flames of their stupidity.

Shelley Bock 2 years, 10 months ago

Where's Bob Dole with his little blue pill?

Steve Jacob 2 years, 10 months ago

All three of those states are kind of swing states, so does not bode well for Romney down the line.

Michael LoBurgio 2 years, 10 months ago

OUR ABORTION WAS DIFFERENT: WHEN THE ANTI-CHOICE CHOOSE

Mr. Santorum is opposed to any and all forms of abortion. Incest? Too bad. Rape? Too bad. Twelve years old? Wife, mother, daughter, lover, friend dying? Too bad.

This hypocrite needs to be kept out of all elective offices for the rest of his life.

“Abortion in any form is wrong,” said Santorum in 2000, three years after his wife had an abortion.

“Except for my wife. If your wife’s life was at stake and the only thing that could save her was an abortion, well, too bad.

Your wife will have to die. It was different with my wife. You see, I love her. I don’t even know your wife’s name.” http://early-onset-of-night.tu... t-when-the-anti-choice

Google Santorum for more interesting facts!

Scott Tichenor 2 years, 10 months ago

This mess the Republican Party is wallowing in just keeps getting better and better by the day. You think McCain was a snoozer? Just wait. The best is yet to come. Romney will have to nominate Rush Limberger for VP to get anyone in the party fired up.

I'm really looking forward to the election.

deec 2 years, 10 months ago

A corporate raider who destroyed thousands of jobs who will turn around the economy, or A pro-birther whose wife had an abortion, or A sanctity of marriage guy who cheated on at least two of his three wives, or An anti-government guy who has been in government for over two decades. This is the best they've got?

tolawdjk 2 years, 10 months ago

No, no it is not. But it is, however, the best that decided to run.

I will say one thing, in previous elections we would have been hearing about how this chaos would hurt the general election given that the primary fight was draining warchests while the incumbent was not spending.

In a Citizen's United World, that doesn't seem to be the case.

webmocker 2 years, 10 months ago

An alternative headline, "Jubilant Santorum Glides to Victory"

gatekeeper 2 years, 10 months ago

All I know is all the republicans I work with are shaking their heads and saying they won't be voting in the next election. They don't like Obama, but hate the choices being thrown at them from the republican party and won't support any of them. I've heard everything from they're too fundamentalist, too rich-b*tch, too out of touch, too insane. All agree that Gingrich is a lying cheat and Santorum and Paul are just crazy. Most won't vote for a morman.

It's funny to watch the republicans beat themselves. Just so sad that so much money is being spent on these failed campaigns when children in this country are underfed and so many people need help.

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

I find Romney's religion the least offensive thing about him. At least he doesn't seem to be a hypocrite in that area and actually lives by his "family values." (Well, in his own family, not those of all the people he fired.)

I find it passing strange that the values people won't vote for Romney because he doesn't share their religion, although he seems to share their values.

Anyone want to lay any odds that Gingrich has, even as we speak, another waiting in the wings?

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

The interesting question is who the core of the party is.

If it's "ardent conservatives", as this article claims, then Santorum is more appealing to them, but it it's "moderates", then Romney is.

I think there's a split in the Republican party between moderates and more extreme conservatives, which makes the whole thing complicated.

It seems unlikely that there could be a candidate who was really satisfying to both groups.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"Considering they don't even see the Hilary in the hedges, waiting to pounce...."

Talk about cluelessness.

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