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Santorum wins GOP contests in Missouri, Minnesota

Updated: 2012-02-08 13:49
( Xinhua)

Santorum wins GOP contests in Missouri, Minnesota

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses an energy summit at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado Feb 6, 2012.[Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum was projected to have won two of the three GOP nomination contests Tuesday.

With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, the former Pennsylvania senator won 55 percent of the votes in the Missouri primary, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with 25 percent, according to US broadcaster CNN.

Texas congressman Ron Paul finished third with 12 percent, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot.

The Missouri contest was seen as Santorum's best chance to regain momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination as the absence of Gingrich gave him the opportunity to consolidate the conservative votes and go head-to-head with Romney.

Winning the Iowa caucuses did inject some momentum to Santorum's campaign, but it turned out to be short-lived and did not translate into real votes in the following contests.

The Missouri primary was a matter more of momentum rather than of delegates. No delegate was at stake in this so-called "beauty contest" primary. The Republican Party of the state will hold caucuses on March 17 which will determine the allocation of 52 delegates sent to the GOP national convention in August.

Tuesday was the first day so far in this election cycle with multiple contests. Apart from Missouri, the candidates also battled in Minnesota and Colorado, both in the form of caucuses. Forty delegates were at stake in Minnesota and 36 in Colorado.

Santorum also performed well in the Minnesota caucuses, where conservatives account for a large portion of the electorate and the former senator has been a favorite.

With 44 percent of the precincts reporting, Santorum captured 45 percent of the votes, with Paul coming in second at 27 percent. Romney won 17 percent and Gingrich had 11 percent.

Romney won Minnesota in his failed White House bid in 2008, beating his nearest rival John McCain by a double-digit margin. But he did not poll strong in the run-up to Tuesday's race and did not put much resources there.

The long-time GOP front-runner was essentially counting on a victory in Colorado. But with a little more than 10 percent of the votes counted, he and Santorum turned out to be in dead heat -- both winning 37 percent of the votes.

At least 1,144 delegates are needed for a Republican presidential candidate to secure the nomination. Romney, who claimed victories in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada, has so far amassed 100 delegates, followed by Gingrich with 35, according to CNN calculations.

Paul has garnered 15 and Santorum with 11.