Good Night for Santorum 08 Feb 12

Rick Santorum gained momentum in the Republican presidential race Tuesday with a convincing Minnesota precinct caucus victory.

The former U.S. senator also won Missouri and Colorado contests.

The West Central Tribune reports Santorum won 45 percent of the Minnesota vote, with Ron Paul second, as more than 86 percent of Minnesota’s precincts reported just before midnight.

“Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,” Santorum told a Tuesday night Missouri rally.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania U.S. senator, said Minnesota and Missouri voters “were heard loud and louder all across the country.”

Minnesota Republicans put Romney in third place, winning only a fraction of the votes he gained in a record-setting caucus turnout four years ago.

Unofficial returns showed U.S. Rep. Paul of Texas behind Santorum with 27 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Romney with 17 percent and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia with 11 percent.

Most counties favored Santorum, with a few leaning toward Paul.

Reports from around the state indicated good attendance, but it did not appear to be the 60,000-plus that attended four years ago.