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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

A Pair of Grit-ty Wins for Santorum in the South



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The Jolt looks at what’s behind Obama’s slide in the polls, a candidate’s complaint that Fox News is in the tank for one of his rivals, and of course, primary night:

The Deep-Fried Primary Night

I think Jeff Foxworthy had once said that you didn’t have to be from the South to be a redneck. Perhaps Rick Santorum has a bit of redneck in him.

Erin McPike and Carl M. Cannon set the stage:

With his two-state sweep of the Dixie Primary, Rick Santorum ensured that the Republican Party’s long campaign of attrition in 2012 will continue. Mitt Romney had conceded last week that Mississippi and Alabama were “away games” for him, but they were far from Santorum’s Pennsylvania home, too — and he won both.

The biggest loser of the night was Newt Gingrich, who had predicted success in Tuesday’s primaries but couldn’t follow up his lone Super Tuesday victory — in his home state of Georgia — with a win even in the neighboring state of Alabama. Gingrich finished second in both Alabama and Mississippi, with Romney a close third. Ron Paul ran a distant fourth in both states.

Gingrich’s miscalculation was coupled by his decision — alone among the four candidates — to remain here in Alabama through the voting. When he and his wife came out to face the cameras and their disappointed followers, both attempted to make the most of it. Callista Gingrich warmed up the crowd by proclaiming, “Our only opponent is Barack Obama and we are committed to removing him from the White House.” She then introduced her husband as “the next president of the United States.”

So now Gingrich is recalculating his goals, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Still, Mr. Gingrich and his advisers say he isn’t going anywhere. In a concession speech, Mr. Gingrich was gracious to Mr. Santorum, while calling the results an indictment of Mr. Romney, widely seen as the front-runner. “I believe that after the primaries are over it will be obvious the so-called front-runner in fact didn’t get there, and from that point we will be in a whole different conversation,” Mr. Gingrich said.

As those remarks suggest, Mr. Gingrich and his campaign have embraced a new goal, which is to block Mr. Romney. “He believes the long haul is to get enough delegates to stop Romney from getting the nomination before the convention,” said campaign chairman Bob Walker, a former congressman. “If Romney is stopped, I don’t think he gets the nomination at the convention.”

Joe Scarborough: “Last night’s headline is not about Newt. It is about a guy with all the money and organization coming in 3rd behind Newt and Rick.”

Except that once you throw in Hawaii and American Samoa, Romney had a better night in terms of delegates. I know, I know. “As goes American Samoa, so goes America.”

Chuck Todd: “Looks like with HI (and assuming an America Samoa sweep for Romney) the Santorum delegate net gain could be as small as 3 from last night.”

The American Spectator’s Jim Antle studied the early exit poll numbers… and noticed some results that seem, at least at first glance, to not make sense: “Mitt Romney won plurality of MS voters who thought Paul’s positions ‘just right.’ Paul came in second. In Alabama, 25 percent say Paul’s positions are ‘just right.’ Santorum beats Paul among this group by 10 points.”


Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum


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