Santorum leads in early Minn. GOP caucus returns

By Philip Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 7:40 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets supporters after a campaign stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

Chris Carlson, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Rick Santorum jumped ahead Tuesday night in early returns from Minnesota's caucuses, hoping to extinguish front-runner Mitt Romney's modest campaign winning streak and launch a comeback of his own in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Colorado Republicans held caucuses as well, and the 70 delegates at stake in the two states combined were the biggest one-day total so far in the GOP race to name an opponent for President Barack Obama.

Returns from 7 percent of Minnesota's precincts showed Santorum with 43 percent support, Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 27 percent and Romney — who won the state in his first try for the nomination four years ago — with 18 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailed with 12 percent.

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