Southern primaries preview: Romney lead puts pressure on Gingrich, Santorum
More appears to be at stake Tuesday for Gingrich and Santorum in Mississippi and Alabama. For the very Northern Romney (despite his talk of grits), a win in either state would be pure gravy.
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Gingrich maintains that he will stay in the race all the way to Tampa, no matter what. Of course, most politicians insist they’ll never drop out until they do, but few can match Gingrich for self-confidence – especially as long as he has the backing of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has poured millions into a pro-Gingrich super-PAC.Skip to next paragraph
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In the delegate hunt, Gingrich is third with 107 behind Romney (454) and Santorum (217), out of 1,144 needed to secure the nomination, according to the Associated Press. The fourth Republican still in the race, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has 47 delegates. His continued presence in the race chops up the vote further, though there’s not much call for the libertarian Congressman Paul to drop out. His followers are particularly devoted to him and his unorthodox views, making it likely that many would simply not vote were he not in the race.
“The speaker can stay in as long as he wants,” Santorum said, “but I think the better opportunity to make sure that we nominate a conservative is to give us an opportunity to go head-to-head with Governor Romney at some point, and hopefully that will occur sooner rather than later.”
On Monday, all three candidates put in appearances in at least one of the Tuesday primary states, and sought to lower expectations. Speaking on Fox News, Romney said “absolutely not” when asked if he needed to win one of the Southern primaries. He pointed out that John McCain, the GOP nominee in 2008, did not win the primaries in either Alabama or Mississippi.
After a speech to an energy summit in Biloxi, Miss., Santorum told reporters that his rivals had spent more time and money in the two Southern primary states than he has.
“It's very tough,” Santorum said, according to National Journal. “It's basically a one-week campaign. The other campaigns have been here running ads longer than we have and have been spending time here before we did.”
Celebrities have also been pitching in during the final frenzy before Tuesday’s vote. Comedian Jeff “You might be a redneck” Foxworthy stumped for Romney, and actor Chuck Norris made robo-calls for Gingrich.
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