Santorum wins Kansas; Romney leads in Wyoming

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters with his wife, Karen, during a rally Saturday in Springfield, Mo.

Associated Press

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters with his wife, Karen, during a rally Saturday in Springfield, Mo.

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses in a rout on Saturday while Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney showed strength in Wyoming, a weekend prelude to suddenly pivotal Southern showdowns in the week ahead.

"Things have an amazing way of working out," Santorum told supporters in Missouri, where he traced his campaign through a series of highs and lows. He called his showing in Kansas a "comfortable win" that would give him the vast majority of the 40 delegates at stake.

Returns from 94 percent of the state's precincts showed Santorum with 51 percent support, far outpacing Romney, who had 21 percent. Newt Gingrich had 14 percent, and Ron Paul trailed with 13 percent.

Santorum picked up at least 30 of the state's 40 delegates at stake, cutting slightly into Romney's overwhelming's advantage.

Santorum's triumph, coupled with Romney's early advantage in Wyoming, came as the candidates turned toward Tuesday primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that loom as unexpectedly important in the race. Polls show a close race in both states, particularly Alabama, and Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all added to their television advertising overnight for the race's final days.

Romney, the front-runner by far in the delegate competition, padded his lead overnight when he won all nine delegates on the island of Guam and then again in the Northern Mariana Islands.

He had 440 delegates in the Associated Press' count, more than all his rivals combined. Santorum had 213, while Gingrich had 107 and Paul had 46.

A candidate must win 1,144 to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Tampa in August.

In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Romney had five of 12 delegates at stake, Santorum had two, Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings.

Romney did not campaign in Kansas, leaving the field to Santorum and Paul.

Gingrich canceled a scheduled trip to the state late in the week to concentrate on the two Southern primaries on Tuesday.

In sparsely populated Wyoming, there were 15 county conventions during the day to pick six convention delegates.

Kansas drew more attention from the White House hopefuls, but not much more, given its position midway between Super Tuesday and potentially pivotal primaries in Mississippi and Alabama.

Romney had no campaign appearances Saturday. The former Massachusetts governor won six of 10 Super Tuesday states earlier in the week and hopes for a Southern breakthrough in Alabama on Tuesday after earlier losing South Carolina and Georgia to Gingrich.

Romney wins in Virgin Islands

The Republican Party chairman in the U.S. Virgin Islands said Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has won the territory's GOP caucus. Herb Schoenbohm said Romney can count on seven delegates from the Virgin Islands. He already had three superdelegates before Saturday's caucuses, and he picked up three more in voting in St. Thomas and St. Croix. After the vote, an uncommitted delegate switched to Romney. Ron Paul got one delegate, and one delegate remains uncommitted. Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands can participate in primaries but, like residents of nearby Puerto Rico, cannot vote in the general election.

Santorum wins Kansas; Romney leads in Wyoming 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 10:04pm]

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