As the heated GOP nomination battle prepares to swing into a winner-take-all phase next month, political strategist Bradley Blakeman tells Newsmax that Rick Santorum must look for a way to convert Tuesday’s one-two Southern punch into a delegate knockout down the line.
“If I’m Rick Santorum, I’m getting my crew together and I’m looking at the map and I’m trying to figure out mathematically for the contests remaining, how do I get to 1,144,” said Blakeman in an exclusive interview Tuesday night following the Alabama and Mississippi contests. “Then I have to come up with a strategy by which I have the amount of money necessary, and organization, to compete in those states — winner take all — that will get me to the 1,144.”
Even so, Blakeman said the former Pennsylvania senator faces an uphill battle as the races shift from states in which delegates have been awarded proportionately to mostly closed primaries in which delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis in swing states during April and May.
“It’s still going to be a tough slog because Romney only has to win like 40 percent of the races remaining and Santorum’s got to win close to the high 60s or 70 [percent]. And that’s a real uphill battle,” the Fox News contributor said.
Blakeman said that winner-take-all states also pose practical concerns for the candidates, who may wish to conserve resources at this point in the campaign.
“They’re winner-take-all states where now candidates are going to have to determine where they are going to compete because their resources are not going to be such where they are a going to compete for a second- or a third-place showing and not get anything to show for it,” according to Blakeman.
He added that Santorum has “marginalized” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by winning the two Southern states that many experts saw as Gingrich’s political turf.
“Gingrich called himself a son of the South,” said Blakeman. “If he calls himself a Southerner and claims to have strength in the South, then he better start winning. And he didn’t win in either Mississippi or Alabama.”
Although Gingrich managed to win roughly the same number of delegates as Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he clearly lost momentum, while Romney managed to hold on to his delegate lead.
“Gingrich is really, tomorrow morning, like Ron Paul — a man without a mission because he doesn’t have the strategy to get to 1,144 mathematically,” insisted Blakeman, noting that Texas Rep. Paul was not much of a factor in either Alabama and Mississippi.
But the continued presence in the race of both Paul and Gingrich benefits Romney, according to Blakeman, who is also a Newsmax contributor.
“If I’m Romney right now, I want Gingrich and Paul to stay in the race because they’re siphoning off votes that would have gone to Santorum,” he said.
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