pkg acosta romney collapse_00002102
Romney picks up pieces after GOP shakeup
02:17 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Rick Santorum's campaign website crashed under high volume Wednesday

Mitt Romney promises to wage a more aggressive campaign against Santorum

Santorum swept the three Republican nomination contests Tuesday

Newt Gingrich will campaign in Georgia next week

CNN  — 

Suddenly facing new questions about the strength of his candidacy, GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney indicated Wednesday he’s prepared to wage a more aggressive campaign against Rick Santorum, the surprise winner of all three of Tuesday’s Republican contests.

“We think we can beat Sen. Santorum where we compete head-to-head in an aggressive way, and we obviously didn’t do that in Colorado or Minnesota to the extent that (Santorum’s) campaign did,” Romney told reporters.

“There’s no such thing as coronations in presidential politics. It’s meant to be a long process,” he added. “It’s not easy to get the nomination (and) it’s not easy to be elected president. … And so far we’re doing pretty well.”

Romney also blasted Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, calling them big-spending Washington insiders.

Republicans in Washington have “spent too much, borrowed too much, (and) earmarked too much,” he said. “Frankly, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were a big part.”

On Tuesday, Santorum won caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado, as well as a nonbinding primary in Missouri. The wins – Santorum’s first since the Iowa caucuses in early January – energized his campaign and signaled the Republican nomination fight will continue through Super Tuesday on March 6, when more than 400 delegates will be at stake.

5 things we learned

“We definitely are the campaign right now with the momentum” and the “enthusiasm on the ground,” Santorum said in a CNN interview Wednesday morning.

His campaign raised about a quarter of a million dollars online Tuesday night, Santorum said, adding that the last two weeks have been his best for fundraising.

A Santorum campaign aide said later Wednesday that the organization’s website crashed during the day due to heavy volume.

The victories by the former Pennsylvania senator bolstered his contention that he is the strongest conservative challenger to the more moderate Romney for the GOP nomination.

“I don’t stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” Santorum declared Tuesday night to cheering supporters outside St. Louis. “I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

Results of Tuesday’s races

Colorado was the most competitive state on Tuesday, with Santorum winning 40% of the vote to 35% for Romney, 13% for Gingrich and 12% for Texas Rep. Ron Paul

In Minnesota, Santorum got 45% of the vote to 27% for Paul, 17% for Romney and 11% for Gingrich, according to the secretary of state.

In Missouri, Santorum had 55% to Romney’s 25% and 12% for Paul, according to unofficial results. Gingrich didn’t make the ballot there.