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Santorum wins Minnesota and Missouri

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Santorum wins Minnesota and Missouri
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL -- Rick Santorum appeared to be the winner of Minnesota's Republican presidential caucus straw poll tonight.

National news media began to project him the winner at 9:30 p.m.

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He also won a primary today in Missouri, his first victory since taking the Iowa caucuses a month ago.

In a mixture of returns from across Minnesota, Santorum earned 45 percent of those taking part in the nonbinding straw poll with 31 percent of precincts reporting.

Minnesota Republicans put Mitt Romney in third place, four years after he easily won the straw poll in a record-setting caucus turnout.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was 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.

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

The caucuses awarded no delegates, like today's Colorado caucuses and Missouri's primary election. But with a split decision in the presidential contest so far, the candidates needed something to trumpet.

National media outlets declared Santorum the winner in Missouri with more than half of the vote. Romney ran second and Paul was third. Gingrich did not run in Missouri.

Colorado's first votes showed Santorum leading, but Romney was expected to do well.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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