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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

A Big, Big Win for Santorum . . . Errr . . . CPAC

Mitt Romney had a horrible, horrible night. Early yesterday, Mitt Romney’s campaign called Missouri a “beauty contest” and said to focus on Colorado. We did. Wow.

I’ve said since Sunday that yesterday would be the first day of voting that Mitt Romney’s “poor” comment to Soledad O’Brien would have an impact. It typically takes a week for comments like that to be digested by voters. Six days after Romney opened his mouth, Rick Santorum swept the night.

From Missouri to Minnesota to Colorado the Republican electorate sent a very clear signal — they want conviction over electability. They do not like Mitt Romney. They see Santorum as authentic. They see Mitt Romney as a fraud. Rick Santorum swept the races. Romney, the front runner, got crushed by conservatives.

The pattern has held up from Iowa to South Carolina to Florida to Nevada to last night. In every county that saw increased turn out, Not Romney won. In counties with decreased turnout, Romney won most often, but not always.

The real winner last night is CPAC – the conservative political action conference. At the end of this week, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich will, in that order, address the crowd. Conservatives in the heartland last night rejected Mitt Romney as inauthentic. CPAC will be a must win speech for Romney.

Considering how often Mitt Romney has lost in the past decade, you’d think he would have given a better concession speech last night. He did not and will need to up his game for his CPAC speech. He must now seriously woo the conservatives he thought he would not need.

But what of Romney vs. Santorum? My prediction is that Romney has nothing to lose and will go negative. He will suddenly become as noxious as his supporters are on twitter and in the Washington Post. It will backfire on him. He will seem Newtish and Newt’s recent complaints about Romney’s negativity will be looked at anew.

Gingrich is a big loser after last night. But I think the untold story is just how terrible Ron Paul did. He had a caucus strategy that has failed across the board. He has won no states. His strategy is failing him.

What a night.

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