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Santorum Wins Conservative Hearts In Minn. Caucus

February 8, 2012, 5:41 AM

Santorum Wins Conservative Hearts In Minn. Caucus
Rick Santorum

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Minnesota Republicans shook up the GOP presidential nomination race by handing socially conservative former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum a caucus win.

Santorum visited the state several times in the week before the vote and was rewarded Santorum on Tuesday with a comfortable victory over second-place finisher Ron Paul. Apparent front-runner Mitt Romney finished a distant third and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in last.

Turnout was low and the night's preference ballot doesn't bind any of the 40 national convention delegates, but it offers plenty of symbolic importance. Romney had been victories on Tuesday would help him to draw away from the pack. But Santorum also scored victories Tuesday in Missouri and Colorado, a sweep that seemed certain to energize his underdog campaign.

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