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Santorum Shocks Romney With Colorado Win Santorum Shocks Romney With Colorado Win

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

Santorum Shocks Romney With Colorado Win

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum leaves after a campaign stop Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo.(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

February 8, 2012

Santorum Sweeps Mini Tuesday 2/7/12

Rick Santorum on Tuesday completed his sweep of states with a stunning upset of Mitt Romney in Colorado’s caucus, according to state Republican officials, shaking up a GOP presidential race that has seen more drama than Romney’s campaign envisioned even a week ago.

Santorum earlier won Minnesota’s caucus and a non-binding Missouri primary. Romney – who won Colorado handily in 2008 -- had long remained the odds-on favorite to prevail in that state’s caucus, as polls had shown him with a double-digit lead.

 

The race see-sawed back and forth all evening, as results trickled in and showed Romney winning counties he had captured with ease in 2008 by far narrower margins. The state's GOP chairman, Ryan Call, said at 1 a.m. EST that with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Santorum had exceeded expectations.

Romney had hoped to benefit from the backing of key Colorado Republicans such as former Gov. Bill Owens, former Sen. Hank Brown and Attorney General John Suthers. But Santorum found a receptive audience -- particularly in the state’s rural areas and socially conservative Colorado Springs -- with his pitch that he could offer the sharpest contrast with President Obama in the fall.

“I don't stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” he told supporters earlier in the evening. “I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

The former Pennsylvania senator also said that Romney's “greatest attribute is, `I have the most money and the best organization.’ He's not going to have the best organization in the fall. We're going to have someone who has other attributes to commend themselves to the United States of America.”

Long before the votes were cast, Romney had sought to play down expectations for Tuesday. “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 early Tuesday. “But unlike the other candidates, our campaign has the resources and organization to keep winning over the long run.”

In remarks to supporters in Denver before the results were announced, Romney congratulated Santorum on "a good night" but remained confident he would be the GOP nominee.

"I look forward to the contest to come," he said. "We're going to take our message of liberty and prosperity to every corner of the country."

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