"Gov. Romney, Mr. Outsider, was for government takeover in health care, was for government takeover of the private sector of the Wall street bailout and was for the government takeover of industry and energy with the cap and trade," Santorum said on CNN. "So Mr. Private Sector was Mr. Big Government when he was out there running for the private sector."
In the glow of victory, he looked past Romney to the general election. As the Republicans fight, Obama watches from his perch in the White House — and waits.
"I don't stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama," Santorum said Tuesday night.
Romney wasn't the only loser.
On the first day of multistate voting, the trio of contests exposed a glaring deficiency for Gingrich.
The former House speaker lacked the resources and organization to compete just as he's trying to project strength heading into Super Tuesday. He made only minimal efforts in the three states that voted Tuesday and stayed out of sight as the results rolled in. Gingrich is focusing on Ohio, where early voting for the March 6 primary has begun.
To be fair, Tuesday's contests will have little bearing on the race for delegates. Missouri's nonbinding primary in particular was little more than an extensive warm-up routine. The state will hold an official caucus in March.
But even symbolic victories can produce or slow momentum.
Romney's camp began downplaying the results hours before the voting began. Rich Beeson, his political director, released a memo earlier in the day noting that even McCain lost 19 states on the way to capturing the nomination in 2008.
Following Maine's low-profile caucuses, which conclude Saturday, the candidates will have an extended 17-day lull.
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