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Santorum looks to build on big wins

An upbeat Rick Santorum has barrelled into Puerto Rico in pursuit of another victory in a Republican presidential race where suddenly no primary is too minor and no delegate is conceded.

Meanwhile, the front-runner, Mitt Romney put nearly one million dollars into television advertising in Illinois, the next big-state showdown.

"If we keep winning races, eventually people are going to figure out that Governor Romney is not going to be the nominee," said Mr Santorum, eager to build on Tuesday's unexpected victories in Alabama and Mississippi.

Mr Romney dismissed Mr Santorum as a "lightweight" on the economy - by far the most important issue as Republicans jostle to challenge president Barack Obama in November.

Mr Romney also rebutted suggestions that he cannot appeal to core conservatives, after a wave of evangelical Christian voters led this week's voting and left him in third place in both states.

"You don't win a million more votes than anyone else in this race by just appealing to high-income Americans," the multimillionaire told Fox News. "Some who are very conservative may not be in my camp, but they will be when I become the nominee, when I face Barack Obama."

Mr Romney remains far ahead in the overall race for the delegates crucial to winning the nomination at the Republican national convention in August. Incomplete returns showed him actually adding one or two to his advantage because of overnight caucus victories in Hawaii and American Samoa.

Mr Romney's aides point out that he has more than half the delegates picked so far.

The former Massachusetts governor travels to Puerto Rico on Friday, after two days of fundraising in New York.

But in a reflection of the importance of next week's Illinois primary, aides announced Romney would make a previously unscheduled campaign stop in the Chicago area en route to Puerto Rico - where residents cannot even vote in the fall election.

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