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Santorum sweeps south, Romney Hawaii

world Updated: Mar 15, 2012 00:43 IST
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In a sharp retort to frontrunner Mitt Romney’s prediction that his campaign was reaching a “desperate end”, Rick Santorum turned the Republican nomination battle into a two-man race with wins in Alabama and Mississippi.

Former Massachusetts governor Romney, rejected again by Southern conservatives in the Tuesday primaries, was battling for second place with former speaker Newt Gingrich, who too had banked on the two southern states after winning South Carolina and Georgia.

However, Romney won a consolation prize in Tuesday’s races with victories in the caucuses of Hawaii and the US territory of American Samoa.

In Alabama, former senator Santorum won 35% of the vote. Gingrich and Romney both had 29%, although Gingrich was about 2,000 votes ahead with 99% of the vote counted. House member Ron Paul had 5%.

With 99% of the vote counted in Mississippi, Santorum had 33%. Gingrich was at 31%, Romney at 30% and Paul at 4%.

“We did it again,” Santorum, whose Alabama and Mississippi victories give him 10 wins to Romney’s 18, told supporters Tuesday night in Lafayette, Louisiana, which will hold a Republican primary March 24.

Santorum’s wins are somewhat of a surprise, because polls released Monday showed Santorum running 8-10 points behind Romney and Gingrich.

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