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
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
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.
Kansas drew more attention from the White House hopefuls, but
not much more, given its position midway between Super Tuesday and
potentially pivotal primaries next Tuesday in Mississippi and
Paul and Santorum both campaigned in the state on Friday, and
Gov. Sam Brownback appeared with each, without making an
In Topeka, Paul told an audience of about 500 that Kansas should
be a ``fertile field'' for his libertarian-leaning views but
declined to say how many delegates he hoped to gain.
Santorum, who hopes to drive Gingrich from the race in the
coming week, lashed out at Obama and Romney simultaneously in
remarks in the Kansas capital city.
``We already have one president who doesn't tell the truth to
the American people. We don't need another,'' he said.
The former Pennsylvania senator told reporters he was confident
``that we can win Kansas on Saturday and come into Alabama and
Mississippi, and this race should come down to two people.''
An aide to Gingrich said earlier in the week that the former
House speaker must win both Southern primaries to justify
continuing in the campaign.
But Gingrich strongly suggested otherwise on Friday as polls
showed a tight three-way contest in Alabama.
``I think there's a fair chance we'll win,'' he told The
Associated Press about the contests in Alabama and Mississippi.
``But I just want to set this to rest once and for all. We're going
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
Associated Press reporters Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington,
Thomas Beaumont in Alabama and Phil Elliott, John Hanna and John
Milburn in Kansas, and David Lieb in Missouri contributed to this
KANSAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY RESPONSE:
"Mitt Romney failed to convince Kansas Republican voters that he has what it takes to be President. In fact, he failed to even step foot in Kansas and ask for a single vote. Mr. Romney's priorities lie with his wealthy donors and special interests. That is exactly why Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike simply do not not trust Mitt Romney.
"President Obama reminded us during his recent speech in Osawatomie that his Kansas roots run deep. He learned his values from his mother who was born in Wichita, his grandmother who grew up in Augusta, and his grandfather from El Dorado. He told the crowd gathered at Osawatomie High that America should be a place where hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried -- no matter who you were, where you came from, or how you started out. These are Kansas values. Education. Opportunity. Responsibility. These are the values that we want our leaders to demonstrate. President Obama has exhibited those values and that is why he must be re-elected President in November."
State Party Chair
126 of 127 precincts - 99 percent
Rick Santorum, 15,271 - 51 percent
Mitt Romney, 6,242 - 21 percent
Newt Gingrich, 4,294 - 14 percent
Ron Paul, 3,760 - 13 percent
Uncommitted, 145 - 0 percent
Herman Cain, 39 - 0 percent
Jon Huntsman, 38 - 0 percent
Rick Perry, 37 - 0 percent
Michele Bachmann, 16 - 0 percent