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Americas

Santorum keeps pressure on Romney with win in Kansas caucuses

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-11

Rick Santorum earned a convincing victory in the Kansas caucuses on Saturday to keep the pressure on frontrunner Mitt Romney in the race to become the Republican Party's presidential candidate. Romney had chosen not to campaign in the state.

AP - Rick Santorum overwhelmingly won the Kansas presidential caucuses Saturday as he tries to blunt Mitt Romney’s momentum in the grinding campaign for the nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, was considered the favorite in Kansas, where his staunch opposition to abortion and gay marriage resonated with the state’s large bloc of evangelical voters.
 
He hoped his victory would give him an advantage in Tuesday’s pivotal primaries in the southern states of Alabama and Mississippi where polls show he is dividing the most conservative vote with Newt Gingrich.
 
A total of 52 delegates to the Republican National Convention was at stake Saturday, 40 in Kansas and 12 in Wyoming.
 
Returns from 61 percent of Kansas’ precincts showed Santorum with 53 percent support, Romney with 17 percent, Gingrich with 16 percent, and Ron Paul with 13 percent.
 
Romney was showing strength In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Romney had five of the 12 delegates at stake, Santorum had two, Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings later Saturday.
 
Romney, the front-runner by far in the delegate competition, padded his lead overnight when he won all nine delegates on the island of Guam and an equal number in the Northern Mariana Islands.
 
Romney did not campaign in Kansas. Santorum and Paul, a Texas congressman, both made stops in the state in the days leading to the caucuses.
 
Gingrich canceled a scheduled trip to Kansas late in the week to concentrate on the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, which the former speaker of the House of Representatives considers friendlier territory.
 
Santorum hopes that a poor showing by Gingrich in these southern contests will drive the former Georgia congressman from the race and enable him to establish himself as the sole conservative alternative to Romney.
 
Romney has been benefiting so far because the more conservative vote has been divided between Santorum and Gingrich, enabling him to defeat Santorum by a few percentage points in such key states as Ohio and Michigan.
US PRESIDENTIAL 2012
 
The former Massachusetts governor continues to fight skepticism among Republican voters about his past, more moderate, views on such sensitive social issues as abortion. Santorum styles himself as the true conservative in the race, but he lacks the campaign cash and organization that the multimillionaire Romney, the former CEO of a private equity firm, has at hand.
 
Romney began the day with 440 convention delegates in the AP’s count, more than all his rivals combined. Santorum had 181, Gingrich 107 and Paul had 46.
 
A candidate must win 1,144 delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Tampa, Florida, next August.
 
The Virgin Islands also had weekend caucuses. In sparsely populated Wyoming, there were 15 county conventions during the day to pick six convention delegates. Another six were chosen earlier, with Romney winning 4, Paul one and one uncommitted.
 
Kansas drew more attention from the presidential contenders, but not much more, given its position midway between Super Tuesday when Romney won six of the 10 state contests and potentially pivotal primaries next Tuesday in Mississippi and Alabama.
 
In Topeka, Kansas, on Friday, Paul told an audience of about 500 that Kansas should be a “fertile field” for his libertarian-leaning views but declined to say how many delegates he hoped to gain.
Santorum lashed out at Obama and Romney simultaneously in remarks in the Kansas capital city.
 
“We already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people. We don’t need another,” he said.
 
The former Pennsylvania senator told reporters he was confident “that we can win Kansas on Saturday and come into Alabama and Mississippi, and this race should come down to two people.”
 
An aide to Gingrich said earlier in the week the former House speaker must win both Southern primaries on Tuesday to justify continuing in the campaign.
 
But Gingrich strongly suggested otherwise on Friday as polls showed a tight three-way contest in Alabama.
 
“I think there’s a fair chance we’ll win,” the former House speaker told The Associated Press about the contests in Alabama and Mississippi. “But I just want to set this to rest once and for all. We’re going to Tampa.”
 
Romney had no campaign appearances Saturday. Romney, hopes for a Southern breakthrough in Alabama on Tuesday after earlier losing South Carolina and Georgia to Gingrich, who represented a suburban Atlanta district in the House for two decades.
 
Despite his constant campaign message of having the business background to fix the economy - by far the biggest issue in this election - Romney has not been able to pull away from his rivals for good.
 
Meanwhile, Obama’s team has renewed confidence about the president’s chances of winning re-election because of the divisive Republican campaign and more good news in the latest jobs report. But privately, his advisers know that outside factors in the United States and abroad - from high gasoline prices to instability in the Middle East - could still derail his campaign in coming months.
 
In the latest good economic news, the monthly jobs report released Friday showed employers created 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent, the result of more Americans looking for work as job growth takes hold month by month.
 
The struggling economy has haunted the president as he seeks a second four-year term in November, and his Republican opponents have hammered the issue in their campaigns. But Obama’s approval ratings have been rising along with the economic numbers.
 
“America is coming back,” he told a fundraising event in Texas on Friday night.
 
Obama, making a campaign-like stop at a Rolls-Royce manufacturing plant in Virginia, warned factory workers and campaign donors that Republicans would offer only the policies “that got us into this mess.”
 
“I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were. I ran for this office to get us where we needed to be,” Obama said. “And I promise you, we will get there.”
 
Romney, campaigning in Mississippi looked at the new economic report with skepticism and noted that the unemployment rate remained above 8 percent.
 
“This president has not succeeded; this president has failed - and that’s the reason we’re going to get rid of him in 2012,” Romney said.
 

 

Date created : 2012-03-10

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