Romney pads up lead as Santorum wins Kansas

March 11th, 2012 - 10:22 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, March 11 (IANS) Leading Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney won some more delegates over the weekend even as closest rival Rick Santorum cruised to victory in Kansas caucuses, gathering momentum for two upcoming southern primaries.

Former senator Santorum’s victory Saturday in Kansas-which his top rivals essentially ceded-came on the heels of his three victories on Super Tuesday. His campaign, according to CNN, said tea party loyalists and conservatives continue to rally around him.

Santorum received 51 percent of the votes, according to a Kansas Republican Party initial count. Former Massachusetts governor Romney was second with 21 percent, followed by former House speaker Newt Gingrich at 14 percent and House member Ron Paul at 13 percent.

Santorum picked up 33 delegates in Kansas, Romney won seven.

Romney and Gingrich abandoned plans to campaign in Kansas and instead focused on Tuesday primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. Paul campaigned in Kansas on Friday and Saturday.

According to a CNN estimate Saturday, Romney had 458 delegates, compared with 203 for Santorum, 118 for Gingrich and 66 for Paul. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates at the Republican convention in late August to secure the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in November.

The Romney camp said it won more delegates than Santorum did, counting caucus gains in the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, plus a handful of delegates selected in Wyoming that CNN had estimated in February.

Romney won the Northern Mariana Islands caucuses early Saturday, picking up nine delegates. He garnered 87 percent of the vote.

Romney received seven delegates in the Virgin Islands. Paul got one. Final results were not reported. Late Friday, Romney won Guam’s nine delegates in its caucuses there.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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