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Santorum Adds Minnesota to His Tally Santorum Adds Minnesota to His Tally

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Adds Minnesota to His Tally

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at a town hall meeting on the soccer field at Rivier College, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

February 7, 2012

Rick Santorum edged to victory in the Minnesota caucuses on Tuesday, NBC reported, giving him his second win of the night in a Midwestern state – along with Missouri – and a second wind for his longshot campaign.

"Tonight was a victory for the voices of our party, conservatives and tea party people, who are out there every single day in the vineyards building the conservative movement in the country, building the base of the Republican party and building a voice for freedom in this land," Santorum told supporters in St. Charles, Mo.

The former Pennsylvania senator, a longtime champion of socially conservative causes such as fighting abortion, was declared the belated winner of the Iowa caucuses last month when results were certified two weeks after the neighborhood gatherings. He struggled in New Hampshire, Florida and even in South Carolina, where a heavily Christian conservative electorate did not turn out for him.

 

Santorum has capitalized on strong support from that group to win caucuses, neighborhood meetings which take longer than simply voting and require a high level of commitment from participants. It’s unclear whether his latest win will spark enough fundraising and excitement to help him in the next two contests, the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Feb. 28.

CNN projected Rep. Ron Paul as the second-place finisher in the state, a tribute to his well-organized cadre of devoted volunteers.

Front-runner Mitt Romney had sought to play down expectations for Tuesday’s races, even though he had won Minnesota in 2008 and even though former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, after ending his presidential bid last year, became one of his campaign co-chairs.

“John McCain lost 19 states in 2008, and we expect our opponents will notch a few wins, too,” Romney’s campaign said in a memo earlier in the day. “But unlike the other candidates, our campaign has the resources and organization to keep winning over the long run.”

Appearing before supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum's showing but pointedly made clear he would seek to draw contrasts between his business experience and his rival's Capitol Hill background.

"I'm the only person in this race, Republican or Democrat, who has never served a day of time in Washington," said Romney, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994. "In the world I come from, leadership is about starting a business, not trying to get a bill out of committee."

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