Inside Politics

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Santorum refuses to bow out after loss

BEMIDJI — Former Sen. Rick Santorum has lost four straight GOP presidential-nomination contests, but you can’t tell it from his attitude.

The perpetually optimistic Pennsylvanian has been drawing standing-room-only crowds and promising his political fortunes will improve if he can make it to just one more state. On Sunday, he said the upcoming races in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado could be chances for him to reset the race - a line he has used ahead of each of the past four races where he came up short.

On Saturday, Mr. Santorum came in last place in Nevada. He didn’t mention that latest setback when he attended church services Sunday, and showed no sign the GOP contest was sliding through his fingers as he toured the factory that produces the signature sweater vests he sells as a fundraiser.

MINNESOTA

Rightward GOP drift challenges front-runner

ST. PAUL — Mitt Romney could face a significant challenge in Minnesota.

The mood has changed since the former Massachusetts governor won the state’s caucuses in 2008. A state that once took pride in political consensus has turned as contentious as any other. Last summer’s bitter government shutdown was a lowlight.

Mr. Romney campaigned four years ago as the more conservative choice than Sen. John McCain of Arizona. This time around, Mr. Romney is the mainstream front-runner up against more conservative rivals, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

And that makes Tuesday’s caucuses unpredictable. Chuck Slocum, who led Minnesota Republicans in the mid-1970s, said that the activists expected to dominate the turnout are among the most conservative in the country.

COLORADO

GOP hoping ‘12 more like ‘10 than ‘08

DENVER — A note to Republican presidential contenders: Colorado’s political terrain is as rocky as its mountains.

The state was once solidly Republican, but turned Democratic in the 2000s as the population swelled with people moving into the state.

Colorado’s traditional conservative base of evangelical Christians and Western individualists became less influential. Hispanics account for most of Colorado’s growth and make up more than 30 percent of Denver’s population.

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