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Santorum wins three States in Republican primary

February 08, 2012 12:55 IST

Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, on Wednesday won the Republican caucuses in three states, reshaping the party's primary race and staking out his claim to be the main alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney.

Santorum's victory in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado caucuses is a setback to Romney, who after two consecutive wins in Florida and Nevada was considered as the front-runner for the Republican primary.

Fifty-three-year-old Santorum has so far won four States including his razor thin victory over Romney in Iowa. Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, has won three.

Newt Gingrich, the former House of Representatives Speaker, has won South Carolina primary. Fourth candidate Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman, has not won any State so  far.

The final winner of these Republican primaries to be held in all the States would get the party's nomination to challenge incumbent Barack Obama in the November elections.

"Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota. I don't stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama," Santorum said in his victory rally.

"Tonight was not just a victory for us, but it 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 this country, building the base of the Republican Party, and building a voice for freedom in this land," said the former Pennsylvania senator, who is no match to the money bank of Romney.

"We need a president who listens to the American people. When the majority of Americans oppose these radical ideas and they speak loudly against them, we need a president who listens to them," Santorum said.

Romney, in his speech in Colorado, congratulated Santorum for his two victories, but asserted that he will ultimately win the Republican presidential nominee.

"This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Senator Santorum, wish him the very best. We'll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee, with your help," he said.

However, both Romney and Santorum continued to attack Obama, accusing him of implementing failed policies.

"This is a moment in time when our country is crying out for fundamental change and reform. Washington cannot reform itself and Washington will never be reformed by those who've been compromised by the culture of Washington," Romney said.

"This is a clear choice. I'm the only person in this race, Republican or Democrat, who has never served a day of time in Washington. In the world I come from, leadership is about starting a business, not trying to get a bill out of committee," he asserted.

Santorum, however, claimed he is the best Republican to defeat Obama.

"Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama and, in fact, would not be the best person to get up and fight for your voices for freedom in America," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington