2012 ELECTION

Santorum: I won and raised about $250K Tuesday night

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Resurgent Rick Santorum said his sweep of three GOP contests earned his shoestring campaign $250,000 overnight, cash he needs to take his upstart bid for the Republican presidential nomination to Mitt Romney's turf.

Santorum's stunning victories Tuesday in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado marked his best performance thus far in the rollicking contest for the Republican presidential nomination - and Romney's worst.

The better-funded and organized former Massachusetts governor shrugged off his poor showing, but his losses were stinging reminders of a stubborn weakness: Romney's inability to appeal to the conservatives at the base of the party.

It was far from clear, though, that Santorum would be able to turn his momentum into the millions of dollars he would need to overtake Romney.

But in the hours after his victory, Santorum said he's finally being heard and supported by conservatives who want a clear contrast to President Barack Obama.

"I think last night we raised a quarter of a million dollars online," Santorum told CNN's "Starting Point" the morning after. "We are going to have the money we need to make the case we want to make."

That overnight haul was part of a larger two-day take of $400,000, Santorum told reporters Wednesday following an event near Dallas with pastors.

And to take the fight to Romney's virtual home states. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Santorum said he'd debate Romney in Arizona, home of a sizable Mormon population and a key patron, Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee.

"Good. We welcome him," McCain said in Washington. Of Romney, he said: "I'm still confident he'll win the nomination. He'll be fine."

Also on Santorum's travel schedule: Michigan, where Romney's father was governor.

The developments shifted the Republican political narrative just as Romney had aggressively courted conservatives and they had begun to embrace him in the first step toward what many Republicans hoped would be a swift end to the nomination fight. Instead, Santorum thrived and relegated House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another contender for the conservative vote, to the rear of the results Tuesday with Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

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