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Rick Santorum Spanked In Nevada Caucus Results

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LAS VEGAS -- Rick Santorum is headed for a crushing loss in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, despite picking up the endorsement of Tea Party darling Sharron Angle, who in 2010 barely lost a high-profile and expensive senate bid to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Early exit polls show Santorum coming in a distant fourth, placing in the single digits.

Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, spent very little time campaigning in the state, assured that Nevada's large Mormon population would make it a difficult place for him to compete. Still, his last place finish puts him in a tough spot as he works to claim the mantle of the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was set to finish first in the caucuses.

On Friday night, Angle publicly appeared on Santorum's behalf for the first time in Nevada. The event can only be categorized as a disaster.

"Twenty-eight people showed up, including Angle's handlers, Santorum’s local staff, and one attendee’s two kids," the Las Vegas Sun reported. "Stepping up to a microphone and smiling, Angle tried to make the best of an obviously bad situation."

Santorum's landslide loss in Nevada comes a day after Indiana officials announced that he had failed to qualify for that state's ballot in May. Santorum vowed to challenge the decision, but it put a dent in the campaign, making it look disorganized.

Santorum hopes to turn his fortunes around with a strong showing in Colorado and Minnesota, which caucus on Tuesday. But, increasingly, it's looking as if his surge in Iowa, perfectly timed as it was to coincide with the caucus there, was a burst similar to those experienced by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and other candidates who vaulted briefly to the top, only to come tumbling back down.

Romney is cruising to victory in Nevada, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) battling for second.

 
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