Rick Santorum overwhelmingly won the Kansas presidential caucuses on Saturday as he tries to blunt front-runner Mitt Romney’s momentum in the grinding campaign for the nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, was considered the favourite in Kansas, where his staunch opposition to abortion and gay marriage resonated with the State’s large bloc of evangelical voters. He hoped his victory would give him an advantage heading into Tuesday’s pivotal primaries in the southern States of Alabama and Mississippi where polls show he is dividing the most conservative vote with Newt Gingrich.

Returns from 89 percent of Kansas’ precincts showed Santorum with 51 percent support, far outpacing Romney, who had 21 percent. Gingrich had 14 percent and Ron Paul trailed with 13 percent.

Mr. Santorum picked up at least 32 of the state’s 40 delegates at stake, cutting slightly into Mr. Romney’s overwhelming advantage.

“Things have an amazing way of working out,” Mr. Santorum told supporters in Missouri, where he traced his campaign through a series of highs and lows. He called his showing in Kansas a “comfortable win.”

Mr. Romney was showing strength In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Mr. Romney had five of the 12 delegates at stake, Mr. Santorum had two, Mr. Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings later Saturday.

Mr. Romney, the front-runner by far in the delegate competition, padded his lead overnight when he won all nine delegates on the island of Guam and an equal number in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Mr. Romney had 441 delegates in the AP’s count, more than all his rivals combined. Mr. Santorum had 213, while Mr. Gingrich had 107 and Paul had 46.

A candidate must win 1,144 delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Tampa, Florida, next August.

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