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Iowa caucuses: Romney pips Santorum

 He finished just eight votes ahead of former senator Rick Santorum in the Midwest state of Iowa.
Ron Paul came third, while Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann settled into a second tier of candidates.
Rick Perry indicated he was suspending his campaign after finishing fifth.
The caucus meetings were the first time voters had a say in the race to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.

Tuesday’s contest launched months of caucuses and primary elections in 50 states, Washington DC and other territories, culminating in the Republican National Convention in August where the party nominee will be formally anointed.
Iowa was not expected to settle the contest – John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee in 2008, came fourth in the state’s caucuses that year – but it will help shape the race for the White House.

The BBC’s Mark Mardell says that in the end, this result has to be good for Mitt Romney, achieving it in a state he hadn’t bothered to fight until the last few weeks.
‘Game on!’
Hours after caucuses closed, Iowa party chairman Matt Strawn announced that Mr Romney had won by just eight of the 122,255 votes cast.
“Governor Mitt Romney received 30,015 votes and senator Rick Santorum received 30,007 votes. Congratulations to governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 caucuses. Congratulations to senator Rick Santorum for a very close second-place finish,” Mr Strawn said.
Earlier in the evening, Mr Romney kept his sights firmly trained on Mr Obama rather than engaging his Republican rivals or claiming victory.
“The gap between his promises four years ago and his performance is as great as anything I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said, before crying: “On to New Hampshire!”
As early results came out pointing to a close race, Mr Santorum declared “Game on!” He praised his faith and his family in a speech which marked his own entry to the national spotlight.

Mr Paul, a Texas congressman, finished third and vowed to continue onto New Hampshire, which holds a primary election next week.
“This momentum is going to continue,” he told a jubilant crowd of supporters. “We will go on, we will raise the money.”

Negative advertising
Finishing fifth, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he was returning to his home state in order to “determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race”.Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, who saw a brief lead evaporate under a barrage of negative advertising last month, pledged to remain in the race and challenge Mr Romney, “a Massachusetts moderate”.
“We are not going to go out and run nasty ads,” said Mr Gingrich, who finished fourth.
“But I do reserve the right to tell the truth. And if the truth seems negative that may be more of a comment on his record than it is about politics.”
Mrs Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who won the Iowa straw poll last summer, finished sixth, and urged voters not to let the media anoint a Republican nominee based solely on the Iowa results.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman was on the ballot, but did not campaign in Iowa.

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Bravo ton takes Windies to mammoth total

 MUMBAI: Darren Bravo continued his dream run with a third century in four Tests to help the West Indies post a mammoth 575-9 on the second day of the third and final Test against India on Wednesday.
Bravo, cousin of former West Indies batting great Brian Lara, dominated the Indian attack with a superb 166 as the tourists scored 308 runs on a batsmen’s day after resuming at 267-2.
Kieran Powell (81), who replaced injured batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Marlon Samuels (61) also made merry on a batting track at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The West Indies’ batting flourished for a second successive day, with the top-six batsmen all scoring a half-century or more — only the fifth instance in the history of Test cricket.
The left-handed pair of Bravo and Powell consolidated their team’s position with a 160-run stand for the fourth wicket to virtually shatter India’s hopes of making a clean sweep.

The hosts lead 2-0 in the series after winning the opening Test in New Delhi by five wickets and the second match in Kolkata by an innings and 15 runs.

Powell hit nine fours in his second half-century in four Tests before being caught behind off spinner Pragyan Ojha while Bravo became debutant seamer Varun Aaron’s first Test victim, caught behind while attempting to drive.

The day belonged to Bravo, whose superb run in Test cricket began in Bangladesh where he scored 195 in Dhaka for his maiden hundred in his team’s series-clinching victory early this month.

The 22-year-old then cracked a brilliant 136 against India in the last innings of the previous Test in Kolkata before scoring a second successive hundred on Wednesday.

Bravo, 57 overnight, completed his century in the morning with an aggressive shot when he square-drove off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for a boundary. He hit 17 fours in his 284-ball knock.

It was another frustrating day for India on a pitch offering no help to bowlers as they could take just two wickets in the opening two sessions, with paceman Ishant Sharma and Ojha bagging one each.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also pressed part-timers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag into the attack in a desperate bid to break the Bravo-Powell stand before Aaron struck thrice in four overs in the evening.Aaron also bowled Carlton Baugh (four) and had skipper Darren Sammy (three) caught by wicket-keeper Dhoni, who took five catches.He nearly got another wicket but Dhoni missed a difficult chance off Samuels when the batsman was on 46.Sharma was rewarded for his hard work in the opening session when he had Kirk Edwards (86) caught behind with a delivery that moved away.Edwards, 65 overnight, looked set for his third century in six Tests as he began on an impressive note, flicking and pulling Aaron for two fours in the opening hour.
He hit 13 fours in his 165-ball knock and added 164 for the third wicket with Bravo. (AFP)

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Republicans begin 2012 US election

Republicans begin 2012 US election

 

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum led in preliminary results, but the race remains too close to call with votes held in more than 1,700 caucuses.

Six Republican contenders spent Tuesday making frantic final appeals to voters.

The caucus meetings are the first time voters have a say in the race to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November’s general election.

Tuesday evening’s contest launches months of caucuses and primary elections in 50 states, Washington DC and other territories, culminating in the Republican National Convention in August where the party nominee will be formally anointed.
About 120,000 voters gathered at more than 1,700 fire stations, schools, public buildings and private homes ahead of the official 20:00 EST (01:00 GMT) start to the voting.

An Associated Press poll of voters ahead of the start of the caucus start confirmed that former Massachusetts Governor Romney, Texas Congressman Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum formed the top tier of candidates.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry are also in the race. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is on the ballot, but did not campaign in Iowa.

Preliminary exit poll results from ABC News indicated independent voters – who are allowed to register as Republicans and participate in the caucuses – had voted heavily in favour of Mr Paul.
Evangelical Christians were split between Mr Santorum and Mr Paul, and the half of caucus-goers describing themselves as “very conservative” were tilting to Mr Santorum.

Also, ABC’s exit poll showed Mr Romney doing well among older voters – a significant chunk of the electorate.
Small town affairs

In the caucuses, voters are allowed to speak on behalf of the candidates they support, followed by a vote, the results of which are transmitted on to the media and to the state Republican party.

Many of the caucuses are tiny affairs held in small towns in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

In Dawson, fewer than 20 voters gathered at a fire station to hold a caucus amid the fire trucks, reports BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell.

A hall in a school in Des Moines was overflowing with caucus goers, reports the BBC’s Steve Kingstone.

“It’s hard to spot a Bachmann fan, but other candidates all have support here,” he reports.

Iowa is not expected to settle the contest – John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee in 2008, came fourth in the state’s caucuses that year – but it will help shape the race for the White House.

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