The Alabama and Mississippi primaries next week are golden opportunities for Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to break out as the conservative standard bearer. However, a split decision will benefit Mitt Romney, The Washington Post
Should Gingrich take the two Southern states, it would solidify his standing as the preferred choice of Southerners. However, if Santorum does well, it could deliver a knock-out blow to the former House speaker.
“If we can finish first or second,” Santorum told reporters, according to the Post, that would “hopefully get the race down to two candidates.” Polls show the former Pennsylvania senator is currently leading in Alabama, with Romney in second place and Gingrich third.
Romney has been campaigning in Alabama calling himself an “unofficial Southerner.” He also picked up the endorsements of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, the Post reported.
“There is no mystery about Republicans in Mississippi. They are socially conservative, and they want candidates to speak to their beliefs,” Marvin King, an associate professor of political science at the University of Mississippi, told the Post. “Even though the unemployment rate is pretty bad, and you would think that Romney had a chance here to talk about his economic record, the reality is that that’s not what drives Republicans here, and Romney doesn’t want to have to answer any questions about his past in Massachusetts down here.”
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