Rick Santorum dealt an embarrassing setback to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign Tuesday night, sweeping non-binding contests across three states and raising new questions about conservatives’ willingness to accept Romney as their nominee.
Santorum beat Romney handily in the Missouri primary and Minnesota caucuses, and well after midnight on the East Coast he was also declared the winner of Colorado’s caucuses. He defeated Romney by 30 percentage points in Missouri, 55 percent to 25 percent; in Minnesota, Santorum took 45 percent to Ron Paul’s 27 percent and Romney’s 17 percent.
The margin in Colorado was the closest of the three contests — Santorum led by 5 points with 100 percent of precincts in. But that defeat may have stung the most for Romney, who led polling in the Western state, where his Mormon faith was expected to be an asset.
Just when it looked like Mitt was going to walk away with it, the GOP voters spoke up. They’re just not that into Mitt.
But Rick Santorum? Seriously?
Expect to hear the words “non-binding” and “beauty contest” quite a bit the next few days as the Republican establishment tries to stop the hemorrhaging of support for Romney. Counting Iowa, this gives Santorum four wins compared to three for Romney and one for Gingrich.
It won’t be easy to lose to Obama next November, but the Republicans seem determined to try.