Santorum Wins Kansas Caucuses, Romney Strong in Wyoming
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rick Santorum won the Kansas caucuses in a rout on Saturday and 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 pointed toward Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that loom as unexpectedly important in the race to pick an opponent to President Barack Obama in the fall. 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.
Romney had 440 delegates in the AP’s 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 next August.
In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Romney had five of the 12 delegates at stake, Santorum had two, Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings on the day’s calendar.
Romney did not campaign in Kansas, leaving the field to Santorum and Paul.
Gingrich cancelled 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.