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Santorum Sweeps US Primaries In Alabama, Mississippi

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Rick Santorum has won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary elections in the U.S. southern states of Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying his status as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the leading candidate in the race.

Santorum narrowly won both staunchly conservative states, with Newt Gingrich finishing second and Romney coming in third. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told supporters that his campaign was “about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things” and that he was “defying the odds” with their help.

He said it was time for conservatives “to pull together” so they can take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Gingrich had hoped to win in at least one of the two states to keep his candidacy viable. But the ex-U.S. House speaker told supporters at a late-night rally that he will ignore calls to drop out of the race, describing himself as a “visionary” leader who can restore the country.

The twin losses were another blow in Romney’s efforts to win support from very conservative and religious Republicans who have so far backed Santorum. But despite Tuesdays’ results, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, remains in the lead in the delegate count, with nearly 40 percent of the 1,144 votes needed to secure the party’s nomination.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates Romney would narrowly defeat U.S. President Barack Obama in a hypothetical election match-up ((49 to 47 percent)), while Santorum would be finish three points behind ((46 to 49 percent)) Mr. Obama, if the election were held now.

The other Republican candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, has not won a nominating contest. He had single digit support in Alabama and Mississippi.

The Pacific island state of Hawaii and the U.S. territory of American Samoa are holding caucuses on Tuesday.

The Republican Party will formally nominate its presidential candidate at its convention in Tampa, Florida, in late August.

VOA

The VOA is the Voice of America

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