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Santorum buoyed by Midwest hat-trick

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Santorum buoyed by Midwest hat-trick

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He may still be a long shot to win the Republican nomination for the White House – but Rick Santorum’s hat-trick in the Midwest contests has reopened the race.

After hard campaigning, he won convincingly in Minnesota and Missouri – states with strong conservative and evangelical Christian support – and also took Colorado to general surprise.

“Today was not just a victory for us, tonight was a victory for the voices of our party, conservatives and tea party people,” he told his supporters.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama!” said Santorum.

Mitt Romney had stressed his conservative side – anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage – but he could not quite shake off the moderate image that his opponents have used to try to damage him.

He failed to take advantage of the low profile of Newt Gingrich – who is waiting for the caucuses in the southern states.