Louisiana primary actually matters, candidates set sights on Bayou State

With Mitt Romney not yet able to lay claim to the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were making strong pitches to the conservative base among Louisiana Republicans.

Tia Owens-Powers/The Daily Town Talk/AP
Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at Louisiana College in Pineville, La., on Wednesday, March, 21, during his campaign tour.

Twenty delegates are up for grabs in Saturday's Republican presidential preference primary, but state party chairman Roger Villere says something else is also at stake: "Perception of momentum."

With Mitt Romney not yet able to lay claim to the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were making strong pitches to the conservative base among Louisiana Republicans.

It's attention to Louisiana that Villere relishes, as he acknowledges that the state primary hasn't mattered much in the last couple of election cycles.

Romney, coming off a win in Illinois that boosted his front-runner status, scheduled a Friday appearance in Metairie billed as a "repeal and replace Obamacare event," followed by a visit to Shreveport to talk about energy policy.

Gingrich was to speak on energy at Port Fourchon, take part in a Hispanic roundtable in Kenner and then hold a town hall meeting at Tulane University.

Paul scheduled appearances at Louisiana College in Pineville and Southeastern Louisiana University; Santorum also was to appear at Louisiana College on Friday.

Louisiana's GOP will have 46 delegates at the national convention. Twenty at-large delegates will be allocated proportionally among candidates who get more than 25 percent of the vote in Saturday's primary. If nocandidate gets 25 percent, the party says, the 20 delegates remain uncommitted.

According to a party news release, of the other 26 delegates, there are five at-large delegates uncommitted after being elected at an upcoming state convention. Eighteen will be uncommitted after being elected during congressional district meetings; three others are Republican National Committee delegates who are uncommitted.

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