Republican candidate Rick Santorum in Missouri 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sarah Conard)
WASHINGTON – GOP candidate Mitt Romney suffered a trio of losses on Tuesday
night, as insurgent Rick Santorum delivered knockout punches in the Colorado and
Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary.
In Minnesota, Romney
registered his first third-place finish of the 2012 Republican nominating
process, while in Colorado and Missouri Romney failed to hold on to states he
won in 2008 when he made his first presidential bid. Santorum bested Romney 40
to 35 in Colorado; 55 to 25 in Missouri; and 45 to 17 in Minnesota, where Ron
Paul picked up 27 percent of the vote.
Santorum, who still significantly
trails his chief rival in national polls, received a fundraising boost Wednesday
following his triple victory. An increase in money and organization are crucial
for Santorum to effectively challenge Romney, who still enjoys considerable
dominance in those areas, despite Tuesday’s losses.
In addition to
challenging Romney, Santorum must also fend off Newt Gingrich’s campaign to
claim the conservative mantle, which both men use to take votes from GOP
enthusiasts dissatisfied with Romney’s more moderate positions.
finished third in Colorado with 13%, and fourth in Minnesota with 11%. He did
not compete in Missouri, which was a non-binding vote, and has focused most of
his energy on major “Super Tuesday” states which will dole out a large share of
delegates to the nominating convention on March 6.
Santorum, in his
victory speech Tuesday night, emphasized that he wasn’t just competing within
his party but for stewardship of the nation.
“I don’t stand here and
claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the
conservative alternative to Barack Obama,” he told supporters.
the losses, Romney continued to express confidence that he would become the
“I want to congratulate Senator Santorum and wish him
the very best. We’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become
our nominee with your help,” Romney told supporters in Denver.
speech, Romney’s campaign circulated a memo on why he would still win the
nomination, despite losses on Tuesday.
“Governor Romney will be competing
across the country and collecting delegates in state after state, even if other
candidates pick up some wins,” Romney’s Political Director Rich Beeson
But many political observers, including several on the right, have
highlighted the clear vulnerabilities in Romney’s candidacy given his struggle
to wrap up the nomination despite winning New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada,
leading in national polls and enjoying monetary and organizational
“He has failed to close the deal with conservatives, who
dominate the Republican party more than they did in 2008,” wrote John Fund in
the conservative National Review Online.
But he added, “He is doing quite
well in the race to become the Republican nominee for president, and must still
be considered the strong favorite.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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