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Santorum, not Romney, declared winner in Iowa

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WASHINGTON — The Republican Party on Thursday declared Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses, upending frontrunner Mitt Romney who was originally shown to have won the first-in-the-US presidential nomination vote two weeks ago.

A certified vote count showed Santorum 34 votes ahead of Romney, in a sure boost for the social conservative aiming to derail Romney, but the absolute final tally may never be known, as the Iowa Republican Party reported that results from eight precincts from the January 3 vote were missing.

“Just as I did in the early morning hours on January 4, I congratulate senator Santorum and governor Romney on a hard-fought effort during the closest contest in caucus history,” Republican Party of Iowa chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement.

But the flip-flop result — Romney had been declared winner by a microscopic eight votes in the January 3 caucuses — is a black eye for Iowa, which for decades has prided itself on holding the country’s first vote in the long march toward choosing presidential nominees.

Santorum’s camp quickly hailed the victory as further evidence that Romney is not invincible.

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“We’ve had two early state contests with two winners — and the narrative that governor Romney and the media have been touting of ‘inevitability’ has been destroyed,” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

“This latest defeat of governor Romney in Iowa is just the beginning, and Rick Santorum is committed to continuing the fight as the clear, consistent conservative voice in this race.”

The state’s 99 counties had more than two weeks to send in their final tallies, but at the end of that period, “certified vote totals were unavailable for eight of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts,” the Iowa GOP said.

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The new certified count has a major asterisk by its side, as any one of the eight unknown precincts could have given Romney a winning margin.

After a late night of vote counting following the caucuses, Romney had been declared winner, beating Santorum by an unprecedented razor-thin margin of eight votes, boosting the former Massachusetts governor’s frontrunner status.

But tallies from across the midwestern state continued to trickle in, and as officials chased down vote results from dozens of late precincts, Romney’s lead evaporated.

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Chad Olsen, executive director of the Republican Party in Iowa, said party leaders will likely never know the results from the missing precincts because they never had the official election result forms, Iowa newspaper the Des Moines Register reported.

“It’s a split decision,” Olsen said.

Wrong as it may have been, Romney consistently touted his unofficial win in Iowa, and went on to win the New Hampshire primary by a decisive margin the following week.

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It was seen as the first time since 1976 that a non-incumbent Republican has won the first two contests in the race to win the presidential nomination.

Romney had been hoping to capitalize on that momentum Saturday in South Carolina, where a third straight victory would put him undisputedly on the way to winning the nomination battle, but the race is now decidedly up for grabs there.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has closed in on Romney in opinion polls following a strong debate performance on Monday, and Santorum is popular among evangelicals in socially conservative South Carolina.

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Romney has long been the frontrunner in the race to win the chance to take on Obama who is seeking reelection, but has yet to rally a majority of Republicans behind his candidacy.

Many conservatives remain suspicious of Romney over his record as governor of a left-leaning state, and the multi-millionaire former venture capitalist has recently been dogged by charges he is out of touch with ordinary Americans.


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2012

Here are 7 wild, bizarre and pathetic moments from Trump’s ‘campaign launch’

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On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump held a rally that was billed as the official launch his re-election campaign — though he has never really stopped holding campaign rallies.

As expected, the president ranted, lied, and engaged in the raucous attacks that are central to his connection with Republican voters. Some of it was actually just sad, such as his continued obsession with Hillary Clinton.

Here are seven of the wildest, disturbing and pathetic moments from the rally:

1. He said Democrats "want to destroy our country as we know it."

Trump casually accuses Democrats of "want[ing] to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/4K79KlbEeR

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2012

British PM candidates clash over Brexit as Boris Johnson skips debate

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Candidates to become Britain's next prime minister clashed over Brexit strategy at their first debate on Sunday but the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, dodged the confrontation.

The 90-minute debate on Channel 4 featured the five remaining candidates and an empty podium for Johnson, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary and former mayor of London.

In sometimes ill-tempered exchanges, four of the five candidates said they would seek to renegotiate the draft Brexit divorce deal agreed with Brussels even though EU leaders have repeatedly ruled this out.

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2012

Michael Cohen ordered back to Congress on March 6

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President Donald Trump's so-called "fixer" is being asked to return to Congress for more questioning on March 6.

Outside of the closed-door committee hearing Thursday, Cohen said that the House Intelligence Committee is seeking further information, according to Washington Examiner writer Byron York.

Michael Cohen finished closed-door testimony before House Intel Committee, says he's coming back for another session March 6. Again: No reason for secrecy. Transcripts should be released ASAP.

— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 28, 2019

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