Rick Santorum Claims Momentum After Stunning Victory

Yesterday, former senator Rick Santorum launched himself back into the race by winning 3 state primaries: Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota – defeating Romney soundly in all three.

It was quite a feat, considering how just two days ago his campaign was declared dead by most news organizations. He came in third in South Carolina,  third in Florida, and dead last in Nevada. So it was no wonder that people were losing faith. But today he pulled off the unthinkable: he won all of the February 7 states: Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota.

Mitt Romney’s staff was getting a little nervous before the primaries, and they tried to ‘lower the expectations’ – they said that Santorum might well win Minnesota, and that people should not expect a victory there. The senator achieved that, and more.

Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, said before the race that “As our campaign has said from the outset, Mitt Romney is not going to win every contest.” And that might be true, but now Santorum has been launched into a second-place spot in the race – thwarting any hopes of a Gingrich-Romney head-to-head race, and lowering the volume of the “Rominee” chanters.

Romney cancelled a trip to Minneapolis that day, insisting to spend his whole day in Colorado campaigning. And even though he spent the most time in that state, Santorum beat him 40% to 35%.

This goes on to show something. Romney was focused on Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, for three states already. Gingrich was his chief competitor in the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina and Florida primaries. While he was slamming away at Gingrich, Santorum slowly was planning and building up support for his big reveal here on Tuesday. Romney has definitely not launched attack ads against Santorum on the scale he has Gingrich, and Santorum escaped the heat of the past three primaries. But if Romney now focuses on Santorum, Gingrich will have some breathing room and possibly a chance to come back and win some states in Super Tuesday.

But one thing’s for sure: Gingrich is not the only conservative alternative to Romney, as he has been repeating for the past few weeks. Gingrich has been repeating phrases over and over, like “Massachusetts Moderate” and “Reagan Conservative,” and “Conservative Alternative.” These primaries have shown that Santorum definitely still exists, and can very well be the alternative to Romney.

Take Minnesota, for example. Gingrich was not on the ballot in that state, and Ron Paul was not focusing his attention there. So it was a neck-and-neck race between Santorum and Romney – and guess who won? Santorum did.

Now, none of these states officially award delegates on Tuesday, but some organizations have made estimates based on the vote count. In Colorado, Santorum got 18 delegates and Romney got 9. In  Minnesota, Santorum got all 37 delegates, and 3 more are unaffiliated party leaders. The Missouri primary is what is known as a “beauty contest” – no delegates are awarded there. But that state was the testing ground for a Santorum – Romney race, and Romney was dealt a major blow. Missouri also has a caucus on March 17, where the delegates are selected. Santorum is now second place in the delegate race – he has 71 delegates, Romney has 94. Gingrich and Paul have 29 and 8, respectively.

We’ll see how this all plays out in Maine, Arizona, and Michigan. Oh, and one more thing: Mitt Romney has won three states, Rick Santorum has won four.

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