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Santorum captures Missouri's nonbinding primary, puts Romney on notice

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | 9:38 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won Missouri's nonbinding Republican presidential primary Tuesday, claiming momentum in his challenge against national frontrunner Mitt Romney even though the victory won't earn him any delegates.

Santorum was the only Republican candidate to campaign for Missouri's primary. He had expressed hope that it could help cement him as a conservative alternative to Romney heading into a big round of state primaries in early March.

Missouri's primary was essentially a glorified public opinion poll. That's because state Republicans chose to award their delegates to the Republican National Convention using a caucus system that will begin in mid-March.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul were the only other prominent — and still active — candidates listed on Missouri's primary ballot. Newt Gingrich did not pay the $1,000 filing fee to appear in the primary, explaining that the vote didn't count for any delegates.

But the ballot still listed several other Republicans who had paid the fee before quitting the race, including Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman.

Santorum was holding a victory party Tuesday night in St. Charles County, where he had campaigned about a week ago. Santorum also had made a campaign swing last week from Hannibal to Fulton, Columbia and Lee's Summit — appearing at the Columbia event with James Dobson, the founder of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family. A political action committee supporting Santorum also had been running ads in Missouri.


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