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Next stop South Carolina: Can Romney's train keep chugging ahead?

If the trend so far in the primaries has been for Republican voters to vote for Mitt Romney with their heads and not with their hearts, some in conservative South Carolina are saying: 'Not so fast.' Most evangelical leaders meeting in Texas Saturday voted to back Rick Santorum.


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns at American Legion Post 15 in Sumter, S.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Ask Fred Kline whom he likes most for president, and he says Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican congressman from Texas. Then ask him whom he voted for in the New Hampshire primary: Mitt Romney.

"I went with electability," says Mr. Kline, chairman of the board of selectmen in Pembroke, N.H.

That, in a nutshell, may be the story of the 2012 Republican primaries: voters who, above all, want to defeat President Obama, and are going with their heads and not their hearts when they enter the voting booth.

Among the Republican contenders, the moderate former governor of Massachusetts is the most organized and best funded. Polls consistently show Mr. Romney as the strongest potential GOP nominee. In part, it is that sentiment – practicality, not love – that has put Romney at the top of polls in conservative, evangelical-heavy South Carolina, scene of the next primary on Jan. 21. 

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