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3 Of 4 GOP Candidates In Minn. Today

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The race for the Republican presidential nomination will really heat up in Minnesota Monday, as three of the four remaining candidates make a stop in the state.

A new poll finds all four candidates have a good chance to claim victory in Minnesota’s caucuses.

Rick Santorum holds a slight edge, according to Public Policy Polling. He has 29 percent, compared to Mitt Romney’s 27 percent and Newt Gingrich’s 22 percent. Ron Paul has 19 percent.

Santorum won a close race in neighboring Iowa, which may be why he made a big push across the state Sunday.

Santorum visited Grace Church in Eden Prairie, where he took questions from the pastor. The majority of the discussion centered around Santorum’s faith in his public and private life.

With his only victory in Iowa, Santorum told us he’s hopeful his stops in Bemidji, Waconia, and Rochester will help tip the scales in Minnesota.

The Pastor of Grace Church said the church was not openly endorsing any candidate.

Santorum will continue his tour of Minnesota on Monday with a stop in Rochester. He will give a health care speech at the Kahler Grand Hotel at 10 a.m.

Fellow candidate Paul visited Minnesota on Saturday and will be back on Monday to hold a town hall meeting at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center at 4 p.m. Then at 7, Paul will rally at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Newt Gingrich just announced on Sunday that he’ll be in town before the caucuses. There will be a public rally at the Ramada next to Mall of America at 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, there will be a rally for Romney’s campaign led by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. The rally will be at Romney’s local headquarters in Edina Monday afternoon.

Romney has a total of 97 delegates, including endorsements from Republican National Committee members who will automatically attend the convention and can support any candidate they choose. Gingrich has 30, Santorum 16 and Paul seven. It will take 1,144 delegates to win the Republican nomination.

Preliminary results of a poll of Nevada Republicans entering their caucuses showed that nearly half said the most important consideration in their decision was a candidate’s ability to defeat President Barack Obama this fall, a finding in line with other states.

About one-quarter of those surveyed said they were Mormon, roughly the same as in 2008, when Romney won with more than a majority of the vote in a multi-candidate field.

The entrance poll was conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press at 25 randomly selected caucus sites. It included 1,553 interviews and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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