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Santorum wins in America's Deep South

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Santorum wins in America's Deep South

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Republican candidate Rick Santorum has won two critical primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi, once again shaking up the presidential nomination race.

The evangelical senator was always expected to appeal to Republican core voters in America’s Deep South, but front runner Mitt Romney had been polling well.

“We will compete everywhere, the time is now for Conservatives to pull together,” Santorum told supporters. “The time is now to make sure that we’ve the best chance to win this election – and the best chance to win this election is to nominate the Conservative to go up against Barack Obama, the conservative who can take him on on every issue.”

Santorum will now be urging his conservative rival Newt Gingrich to pull out of the race. Although Gingrich came second in both states he really needed a win to keep his campaign afloat.

The vote is a disappointment for Romney who came a close third, but although he has already opened a big lead in the number of delegates won, he had hoped for a breakthrough to put his conservative credentials and bid for the nomination beyond doubt.

So far the Republican race has featured a number of surges but although Romney looks unlikely to be caught he may not get the 1,144 winning delegate total. In that case, Santorum is pinning his hopes on votes coming his way at the Republican Convention in the summer.

The fourth candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, did not actively campaign in either state.