Santorum tightens grip on Bible Belt with Louisiana win

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

Although the victory gives Mr Santorum bragging rights and 10 more delegates, 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 nominating convention in August.

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

The under-funded underdog has tended to win in Bible Belt states such as Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Mr Romney – the deep-pocketed, highly organised former Massachusetts Governor – has persistently struggled in such heavily conservative regions.

"I'm not running as a conservative candidate for President. I am the conservative candidate for President," Mr Santorum said.

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

With 100 per cent of the precincts counted, unofficial returns showed Mr Santorum with 49 per cent, Mr Romney with 27 per cent, Mr Gingrich with 16 per cent, followed by Ron Paul with 6 per cent. AP

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