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Twin Southern wins reinvigorate Santorum campaign

By Chris Welch, CNN
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Santorum tells supporters he "did it again" after twin wins in Deep South
  • Republican candidate was campaigning in Louisiana, which votes next week
  • Santorum turns attention to President Obama
  • Supporters say rival Newt Gingrich should drop out of race

Lafayette, Louisiana (CNN) -- A beaming Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum declared he "did it again" and "defied the odds" Tuesday night as he took the stage fresh off his wins in the critical Southern states of Alabama and Mississippi.

Speaking to a packed banquet room at a hotel in Louisiana — a state that holds its contest next week — the former Pennsylvania senator told supporters that if they followed in Tuesday's footsteps, he'd be one step closer to clinching the title of 'Republican nominee.'

"[If] you do your job next week we will nominate a conservative, and if we nominate a conservative we will defeat Barack Obama and set this country back on the right track."

Santorum said he'll be competing "everywhere there are delegates" in the coming weeks, vowing to "win this nomination before the convention."

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He played to the crowd, blaming President Barack Obama for many of the problems still facing the oil and gas industry of the region.

"This administration almost put this town under with the moratoriums, [and] the delays in permitting that are getting worse and worse and worse," he said. "We're seeing gas prices at what are projected to be historic highs and yet this president almost put this whole region out of business because of the extreme environmental policies of this administration."

"We will put this town and this region back to work so you can go back to work and have a better quality of life," he added to a wave of applause.

Sandy Hindelang of Lafayette was one of the voters Santorum was hoping to sway with his speech. She was leaning toward Santorum but wasn't sold.

"I like [that] he is defending our freedoms," she said, but admited that he has a tougher shot with Newt Gingrich still in the race.

"They're splitting the conservative votes between the two of them."

She believes the former Speaker of the House should call it quits.

So does Alex Deitenbeck, also of Lafayette.

"I think he should have dropped out a long time ago," Deitenbeck said. "He doesn't have a leg to stand on anymore."

Santorum also used some of his speech to take a few subtle jabs at chief rival Mitt Romney.

"People said you're being outspent, [and] everybody's talking about all the math and...that this race is inevitable," Santorum said, alluding to comments Romney has made regarding the fact that the former Massachusetts governor has significantly more delegates than the former Pennsylvania senator.

"For someone who thinks this race is inevitable, he spent a whole lot of money against me for being inevitable."

The former senator, who often wears his religion on his sleeve and who places a large importance on social issues in general, said people everywhere are coming up to him saying "I'm praying for you."

That was on display Tuesday prior to the speech, as a man stood in front of the room and asked supporters to get on their knees and offered a prayer for Santorum.

"We pray that you will lift him up and... make it known before this nation this is the man that you have for this country," the man said, before adding that the right person is "not someone who wants to kill people and babies."

Santorum is staunchly anti-abortion.

The White House hopeful was to hop on a late-night charter to Puerto Rico, which holds its early voting contest Sunday.

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