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Citing Split Delegate Count, Santorum Declares Victory in Michigan Citing Split Delegate Count, Santorum Declares Victory in Michigan

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field

CAMPAIGN 2012

Citing Split Delegate Count, Santorum Declares Victory in Michigan

Ignoring exit polls and a lost lead, Santorum says he pulled off the “impossible.”

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On the eve of the Florida GOP primary, presidential candidate Rick Santorum campaigns on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, in Luverne, Minn. Santorum told about 300 Minnesota voters who had gathered to hear him speak that their votes weren't paid as much attention as Iowa's, but that they were "just as important." (AP Photo/Amber Hunt)(AP Photo/Amber Hunt)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Rick Santorum marched into Tennessee on Wednesday declaring victory in the Michigan primary because he split the state’s delegates with rival Mitt Romney, despite losing the popular vote by three percentage points.

“We won Michigan last night by coming out of Michigan with 15 delegates out of 30 delegates in Mitt Romney’s home state, being outspent 6-to-1,” he told reporters after a rally at Temple Baptist Church, ignoring questions about underperforming with Catholic voters in the state.

 

The Michigan GOP had not released delegate counts as of early evening, but The Associated Press reported Wednesday morning that Romney and Santorum would emerge with 15 delegates apiece: two each from the seven congressional districts each man won, and one each of the two at large delegates awarded proportionally.

Responding to a question about his performance among women voters, Santorum exasperatedly told reporters, “I don’t know if you guys are listening. We went into Michigan and we were able to pull of the impossible.”

He did not bring up the fact that he had lost a lead that had been in the high single-digits the week before the primary.

 

“Don’t give Romney all of the spin,” he said. “We went into his backyard, he spent a fortune -- money he had no intention of spending -- and we came out of there with the same number of delegates he does. We’re in great shape going into this election. We are excited about what’s going to happen on Super Tuesday.”

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul rejected Santorum's interpretation in biting terms. "Rick Santorum is like Rumpelstiltskin -- he's trying to spin straw into gold. The truth is, he lost Michigan and lost Arizona by a landslide because Republicans rejected his dirty tricks," she said.

As Santorum was taking his self-declared victory lap in Tennessee, his campaign held a conference call with reporters to discuss the delegate count. The point, they said, was to “avoid another Iowa” -- where Santorum was handed a tardy victory after votes that initially showed Romney winning the caucuses were recounted.

Later, in an interview on the Hannity program on Fox News Channel, Santorum laid down a challenge to Romney in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. “He ain't gonna come out with half the delegates in Pennsylvania. We’re gonna smoke him,” Santorum said.

 

Also on the program, he continued to back off his controversial remark that former President John F. Kennedy's speech about the seperation of church and state made him want to “throw up.” Santorum said on the show, “Maybe I should have used a different term.”

Lindsey Boerma contributed contributed to this article.

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