It was a photo finish on Tuesday night in Iowa, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney barely beating out Rick Santorum in a statistical tie for first place, each winning 24.5 percent of the caucus vote, with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, finishing just a few percentage points behind in third.
It was a predictably good, but largely irrelevant, showing for Paul, who has no chance of becoming the Republican nominee for president. And it was an impressive, but necessary, finish for a surging Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator whose money troubles and disappointing poll numbers had almost discounted him from the race. He's now positioned (for a week at least) as the conservative alternative to Romney.
But on Romney, the analysts and critics are decidedly dour, already spinning his tie with Santorum as proof that conservatives still don't like him.
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