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Santorum Building Momentum In GOP Nomination Fight

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JOHNSTON, IA - JANUARY 03: Republican presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum addresses a crowd at the Stoney Creek Inn on January 3, 2012 in Johnston, Iowa. Santorum, who was polling in the single digits until recently, is expected to finish first or second in today's Iowa caucus. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

JOHNSTON, IA – JANUARY 03: Republican presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum addresses a crowd at the Stoney Creek Inn on January 3, 2012 in Johnston, Iowa. Santorum, who was polling in the single digits until recently, is expected to finish first or second in today’s Iowa caucus. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Rick Santorum’s campaign was left for dead after losing in Florida, but the rumors of his demise were premature at best. Tuesday, Santorum swept Mitt Romney in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

Santorum picked up big momentum from the sweep as he battles Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination to face President Barack Obama in November’s general election.

For Santorum, he now has things going his way heading into Super Tuesday.

For Mitt Romney, instead of pivoting to target President Barack Obama at this early date; he now is in a serious fight with Santorum for the voice of the Republican Party.

Santorum has appealed to the most conservative wings of the party, which typically turn out for primaries and caucuses.

If Florida’s winner-take-all primary was removed from the equation, Romney and Santorum would be separated by just a few delegates in the battle for the GOP nomination.

As it stands now, Romney is 47 delegates ahead of Santorum.

Santorum had been trailing Gingrich, but thanks to higher favorability numbers across the Midwest; he was able to easily move past both Gingrich and Romney, who were not popular with mainstream America.

Romney’s problem has been that he can’t unify the party behind him. Conservatives have been searching for a candidate, any candidate that can beat Romney.

They don’t particularly care for Romney’s past as a moderate and he’s battling his history to appeal to more conservative voters.

Santorum, who was easily beaten for his Senate seat several years ago, has dialed into the more conservative voters with rhetoric about religion, abortion, and other controversial social issues that resonate with areas like the Bible belt and the Midwest.

Santorum appeared on CNN Wednesday and said, “I’ll stand by my record. I’ll stand by what I fought for…I stood by principle, and I’ll do that as President.”

The former Pennsylvania Senator has also made a dent in Romney’s lead by tying Romney’s universal health care plan in Massachusetts to President Obama’s health care plan passed two years ago.

The road will continue to get tougher for Santorum who must try everything he can to keep up with the fundraising machine that Romney, and even Newt Gingrich, has put together.

The next caucus will be on Saturday in Maine, where 24 delegates are up for grabs. After that, the races move to Arizona and Michigan which will both have primaries on February 28.

Washington will hold its caucus on March 3.

Then, March 6 will be Super Tuesday when more than 400 delegates are up for grabs.

Santorum needs a good showing in Maine and Washington, which both have the more conservative friendly caucuses, to stay in the race.

If he can win two more states heading into Super Tuesday, he’s got a fighting chance of keeping the race going through at least March.

Texas could become a swing state on April 3. If Santorum is still in striking distance then, he might be able to pull an upset and take most of the 155 delegates Texas offers on April 3.

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