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Santorum wins Louisiana primary

Rick Santorum has won the Louisiana Republican presidential primary, beating front-runner Mitt Romney in the race to challenge President Barack Obama.

Although the victory gives Mr Santorum bragging rights, it does not change the overall dynamics of the race.

The former Pennsylvania senator still dramatically lags behind Mr Romney in the hunt for delegates to the Republican's summertime nominating convention.

Even so, Mr Santorum's win underscores a pattern in the drawn-out race.

The under-funded under-dog has tended to win in Bible Belt states that include Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Romney - a deep-pocketed, highly organised former Massachusetts governor - has persistently struggled in such heavily conservative regions.

Neither candidate was in the state as Louisiana Republicans weighed in. Nor was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was trailing in Louisiana.

Mr Romney took a rare day off, with no public events. Mr Santorum spent the day campaigning in Pennsylvania and next-up Wisconsin, which votes on April 3 and represents one of his last chances to beat Mr Romney in a Midwestern state.

"Stand for your principles. Don't compromise. Don't sell America short," Mr Santorum implored voters in Milwaukee, telling them that he expected their state to be "the turning point in this race".

In an unmistakable jab at Mr Romney, Mr Santorum added: "Don't make the mistake that Republicans made in 1976. Don't nominate the moderate. When you do, we lose."

It was a reference to Ronald Reagan losing the 1976 Republican nomination to incumbent President Gerald Ford, and Democrat Jimmy Carter winning the White House.

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