Santorum triumphed, as well, in a nonbinding Missouri primary that was worth bragging rights but no delegates.
“Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,” the jubilant former Pennsylvania senator told cheering supporters in St. Charles, Mo. Challenging both his
GOP rival and the Democratic president, he declared that on issues ranging from health care to “Wall Street bailouts, Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama.”
Returns from 74 percent of Minnesota’s precincts showed Santorum with 45 percent support, Texas Rep. Paul with 27 percent and Romney — who won the state in his first try for the nomination four years ago — with 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailed with 11 percent.
Romney prevailed in both Minnesota and Colorado in 2008, the first time he ran for the nomination, but the GOP has become more conservative in both states since then under the influence of tea party activists. Nor was he backed by the overwhelming advantage in television advertising, including fiercely negative attacks on his rivals, that had helped him in other states this year.