Rick Santorum Triumphs Over Mitt Romney in Louisiana

Santorum beats Romney, but overall dynamic of GOP race remains.

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Earlier Saturday, Santorum said he wanted to debate Romney without their trailing competitors on stage.

"This race has clearly gotten down to two candidates that can win the nomination," Santorum told reporters in Milwaukee. "I'd love to have a one-on-one debate."

In the run-up to Louisiana's voting, Santorum found himself on the defensive after suggesting he'd prefer a second term for Obama over a Romney presidency. Santorum was all but forced to walk back those comments, saying less than 24 hours before Louisiana polls opened that "over my dead body would I vote for Barack Obama." [See pictures of Rick Santorum on the campaign trail.]

Romney also faced trouble last week when a top aide compared the switch from a primary to a general election campaign to an Etch A Sketch toy, suggesting earlier campaign positions could be easily wiped away.

But most Louisiana voters said they weren't concerned with the comment, with only about one in five in exit polls calling this week's Etch A Sketch controversy an important factor in their vote.

Louisiana has complicated delegate rules: Even though there were 20 delegates at stake Saturday, they are awarded proportionally to the candidates who receive more than 25 percent of the vote.

Most states divide all the available delegates among the candidates who meet the minimum threshold. Louisiana's system is strictly proportional, with any leftover delegates designated as uncommitted, meaning they will be fought for at the state convention.

The next key fight comes April 3 in Wisconsin. Romney's campaign is airing TV ads in the state, and his super PAC allies have plowed more than $2 million into TV advertising there.

Also voting April 3 are Maryland and the District of Columbia. There are 95 delegates combined at stake in the three contests.

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