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Santorum comes in first in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado GOP primary races

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 21:46 EDT
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Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed)
 
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Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) won the Missouri GOP primary and the Minnesota and Colorado causes on Tuesday. He maintained a tremendous margin over front-runner former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) in Missouri, with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) taking up the lead in Missouri. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) didn’t appear on the ballot in that state and Santorum was the only candidate who appeared in the state of late. In Minnesota, however, Paul beat Romney and Gingrich in the caucuses by a significant margin. Romney came in a relatively close second in Colorado with Paul and then Gingrich trailing.

Gingrich missed the deadline to be on the ballot in Missouri last November, though his campaign later claimed they had intentionally neglected the state. Missouri marks Santorum’s first win since Iowa, and his first night-of win to date. Analysts expect it will allow him to more credibly claim to be a conservative alternative to Gingrich, especially in the wake of Gingrich’s odd Saturday evening press conference and his attacks on Romney’s record as a successful businessman.

Santorum spoke in Missouri after the race in Minnesota was called for him, thanking God “for our ability to persevere through the dog days,” his wife (whom he kissed on stage), his kids, his supporters whose votes, he said, “I suspect were heard particularly loudly in Massachusetts,” and the tea partiers who he claimed were the “base of the conservative movement.” Santorum then turned to attacking Obama who, he said, he suspected wasn’t listening because, “Has he ever listened to the voice of the American people?” Santorum went on to say that “he thinks he’s better than you,” a refrain he repeated throughout his speech. He promised, too, that Romney had “the same positions as Obama” on everything from cap and trade to the Wall Street bailouts.

Santorum picked up a theme from his competitor, Gingrich, adding that “Tonight we have an example of what a race looks like when a candidate isn’t outspent 5 to 1 and isn’t subject to negative ads that attack his character,” adding that Romney won’t be able to outspend and out-organize Obama in the fall. And, he added, his campaign was doing well because of his economic plan which he said proved that, “I don’t care about the 99 percent, rich or poor, I care about 100 percent of Americans.” Santorum then turned to the oft-heard complaint from conservatives about the Obama administration’s decision to force religious employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, saying, “When the government gives you rights, unlike when God gives you rights, the government can take you away,” accusing the Administration of actively discriminating against Catholics.

Paul spoke next, telling his supporters that “we have a very strong second place,” and trumpeting a recent Reuters poll that places him second. He then trumpeted his delegate count despite his second-place finish, and told his supporters, “It must be much more fun believing in something than just campaigning for nothing.” He then proceeded to outline those beliefs, from his $1 trillion budget cuts the first year to his foreign policy positions to civil liberties to his demands to “bring our troops home” to save money. And, of course, no Paul speech would be complete without a call to audit and curtail the Fed and to end fiat currency.

Romney spoke last at 11:33 ET, before the results of the Colorado caucus were announced, noting (as did the political reporters present) that his room was fairly empty. He said he expected to come in first or second, and congratulated Santorum on his wins in Missouri and Minnesota. Then, as is his wont, he proceeded to attack Obama and Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008, reminding people that Obama had then defined progress as “how many people can find a job that pays a mortgage,” nothing “more Americans had lost their jobs during Obama’s term than any president in modern history and more Americans had lost their homes than under any president in modern history.” He added that Obama defined progress by “whether the average American family sees their income go up,” but, Romney said, median household income had fallen. Romney cited Obama’s other promises on giving entrepreneurs opportunities and reducing the need to rely on the social safety net.

Romney went on to note that “I am the only person in this race that hasn’t spent time in Washington,” a not-so-veiled reference to Gingrich’s claims that he is a Washington outsider, hitting those serving on everything from their spending habits to “voting for their own pay increases” to the many broken promises to abide by term limits (an original item in Gingrich’s much-hailed Contract With America).

Romney then rounded up with a number of anecdotes about his father, including about his love of spitting actual nails, his time as a plasterer and how he paid for his honeymoon by selling aluminum paint out of the trunk of his car, a clear parallel to Santorum’s stories of his immigrant, coal-mining grandfather. But with the Colorado race yet to be decided, Romney cut it short, thanked his supporters and ended the speech with a round of hand-shaking marred only by the Secret Service escorting a young man out of the auditorium after he reportedly attempted to glitterbomb the candidate.

[This post was updated after publication.]

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
 
 
 
 
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