• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Rick Santorum Wins Big in Tuesday's Returns

Rick Santorum Sweater Vest - P 2012
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Updated: Bolstered by conservative supporters, the former senator carries Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado in GOP voting.

Staying out of Nevada turned out to be a lucky bet for former Sen. Rick Santorum.

While his GOP opponents campaigned in the Silver State last week, Santorum went to work campaigning in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, where he figured he could galvanize evangelical, conservative voters.

PHOTOS: 10 Hollywood Players That Will Make a Difference in the 2012 Elections

In Tuesday's Republican presidential caucuses, Santorum did just that. He easily won Missouri, before capturing the majority of the vote in Minnesota. Then he surprised the political pundits by winning Colorado.

"Tonight was not just a victory for us," Santorum told supporters in St. Charles, Missouri. "It was a victory for the conservatives in our party….They're building a voice for freedom in this land."

US Rep. Ron Paul, meanwhile, came in second in Minnesota, where he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.

PHOTOS: Box Office Politics: The Movies and Stars Dems vs. GOPers Love (and Love to Hate)

"We did very well tonight and it's going to continue," Paul said, noting that a recent poll showed him in second place behind Romney nationwide. "It's because of those who have joined our campaign for liberty…We are well on our way."

It was clearly not Romney's night, with the momentum from his Nevada win over the weekend hitting a speed bump. "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," one pundit quipped. 

Romney's poor showing in Minnesota and Missouri shows that conservative Republicans have serious misgivings about voting for the party's front-runner. 

Nevertheless, Romney was upbeat, even after being glitter bombed by a protester.

"The race is too close to call and I'm looking forward to coming in number one or number two," Romney told the crowd in Denver. "This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Rick Santorum. We'll keep campaigning down the line, but I expect to be your nominee, with your help."