US Republican Race Moves Tuesday to Colorado, Minnesota

Posted February 7th, 2012 at 1:05 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is hoping to solidify his frontrunner status for the Republican party's nomination with strong showings in caucuses Tuesday in Colorado and Minnesota.

Romney appears poised to win in Colorado. But polls in Minnesota have suggested any of the four Republican candidates could take first place, with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in the lead.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, once considered Romney's top rival for the nomination, does not appear to be a threat to win in either state.

Romney won in Colorado and Minnesota during his bid in 2008 for the Republican presidential nomination.

The caucuses are part of the state-by-state process to pick a Republican challenger to face President Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election in November.

There is also a primary Tuesday in Missouri, but it is non-binding and no delegates are at stake.

On Monday, the four candidates campaigned in Minnesota and Colorado. Romney focused his message on Santorum to try to head off any momentum produced by the former senator.

Romney is coming off a huge victories last week in the Florida primary and the Nevada caucuses. On Saturday in Nevada, he tallied 50 percent of the support compared with 21 percent for his closest challenger, Gingrich. Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Santorum finished far behind in the final two spots.

Gingrich has vowed to fight all the way to the Republican nominating convention in Florida in August.

It is early in the selection phase of the Republican fight to win back the presidency. To be selected to face Barak Obama, a Republican needs to have the support of 1,144 delegates at the August nominating convention. To date, Romney has 101 committed delegates; Gingrich 32; Santorum 17; and Paul 9.

In a hypothetical election matchup, a new poll indicates that President Obama would beat Romney.

The ABC News-Washington Post survey shows Mr. Obama ahead 51 percent to 45 percent among registered voters .

The poll found that half of those surveyed approve of President Obama's job performance and believe he deserves a second term.