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Santorum Wins Oklahoma Primary, Networks Project

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Rick Santorum won the Oklahoma Republican presidential primary, networks projected, overcoming a last-minute endorsement of rival Mitt Romney by Tom Coburn, one of the state’s U.S. senators.

MSNBC and Fox projected Santorum’s victory over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The victory by Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, illustrates the difficulty Romney has had garnering support from Republicans in southern states who focus on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Romney lost the South Carolina primary in January to Gingrich, who also won today’s Georgia primary.

“We’re going to win a few, we’re going to lose a few,” Santorum told supporters in Steubenville, Ohio. “We’re ready to win across this country,”

Most of Oklahoma’s 43 delegates to the Republican National Convention in August will be allotted proportionally, based on candidate vote totals statewide and in each congressional district.

Coburn, who won a second Senate term in 2010 with 71 percent of the vote, announced his Romney endorsement in the Oklahoman newspaper on March 4.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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