Santorum wins in Deep South primaries | News | DW | 14.03.2012
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Santorum wins in Deep South primaries

Republican primary elections in the US states of Mississippi and Alabama have given wins to former Senator Rick Santorum, while front-runner Mitt Romney trailed in third place in both contests.

Former Republican US Senator Rick Santorum narrowly won primary elections in Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday, deepening front-runner Mitt Romney's struggle to convince voters he should lead the party in the presidential election in November.

Early results gave Santorum about 35 percent of the vote in Alabama, followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 29 percent and Romney with 28 percent. In the neighboring state of Mississippi, Santorum led with 33 percent, while Gingrich trailed with 31 percent and Romney with 30 percent.

Texascongressman Ron Paul did not actively campaign in the states and lagged far behind in the single digits.

Both Deep South states are Republican strongholds where evangelical Christian voters play a key political role.

"We did it again," Santorum told supporters at his headquarters in Lafayette, Louisiana. In reference to his main rival's deeper pockets, he said Romney had "spent a whole lot of money against me for [his nomination] to be inevitable."

Romney did, however, win presidential caucuses in Hawaii and the territory of American Samoa.

The former Massachusetts governor still has the most delegates to represent him at the Republican National Convention in August, and he is favored by establishment Republicans. However reservations and indifference among many voters have led to a protracted intra-party battle that some believe will benefit President Barack Obama in the general election.

acb, ncy/pfd (AP, Reuters)