What’s so su­per about Tues­day? 419 GOP del­e­gates

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY CON­NIE CASS

Su­per? Maybe not this time. But it is a Tues­day, one with the big­gest pay­out of the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­maries.

Su­per Tues­day — slimmed down to half its 2008 size but still dol­ing out one-third of the del­e­gates needed to win — prob­a­bly won’t set­tle much.

Sure, it could nudge for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich out of the race, or lend Rep. Ron Paul of Texas more cred­i­bil­ity. But it won’t be easy for ei­ther for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney or for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum of Penn­syl­va­nia to score a de­ci­sive ad­van­tage, be­cause del­e­gates are handed out by share. A close sec­ond in a state can pay off al­most as well as first place.

Win some big states, es­pe­cially Ohio, and the sym­bol­ism is pow­er­ful, of course.

Mr. Rom­ney might ce­ment the front-run­ner sta­tus that keeps slip­ping through his fin­gers. Mr. San­to­rum could prove he’s the real thing.

What’s at stake, what it means and what might hap­pen when 10 states stretch­ing from Alaska to Virginia vote on the same day? A Su­per Tues­day tip­sheet:

Del­e­gates up for grabs Tues­day:

419.

Del­e­gates al­ready won: 353. Mr. Rom­ney, 203; Mr. San­to­rum, 92; Mr. Gin­grich, 33; Mr. Paul, 25.

Del­e­gates needed for the nom­i­na­tion: 1,144.

Su­per Tues­day is su­per-ex­pen­sive. When it comes to com­mer­cials, Mr. Rom­ney and his cam­paign’s sup­port­ers have out­gunned the rest of the field. Re­store Our Fu­ture, a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee that backs Mr. Rom­ney, had spent about $5.5 mil­lion in Su­per Tues­day states by the end of last week.

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio: It’s the race to watch. Po­lit­i­cal junkies get all mistyeyed over this Rust Belt swing state, and not just be­cause of the 63 del­e­gates — no Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee has be­come pres­i­dent with­out win­ning Ohio in the gen­eral elec­tion.

Mr. San­to­rum and Mr. Rom­ney are duk­ing it out in Ohio. Look for the out­come to gen­er­ate more buzz than any other Su­per Tues­day con­test.

Newt’s last stand or Newt rises again?

Get out the hook for Mr. Gin­grich if he loses in Ge­or­gia, the state he rep­re­sented in the U.S. House for two decades. Mr. Gin­grich hopes to win de­ci­sively here and pick up enough other del­e­gates to re­launch his up-and-down cam­paign, which has been mostly down-and-out since he lost Florida in Jan­uary. He’s got en­dorse­ments from Ge­or­gia Gov. Nathan Deal and from Her­man Cain, a fel­low Georgian and a for­mer can­di­date. He’s got a new pitch, claim­ing he can bring the cost of gas down to $2.50 per gal­lon.

Else­where in the South: Two other Bi­ble Belt states, Ten­nessee and Ok­la­homa, are cen­tral to Mr. Gin­grich’s hopes of re­vival. But Mr. San­to­rum in­sists he’ll be the big story in both.

In Ten­nessee, a con­fi­dent-sound­ing Mr. San­to­rum is try­ing to walk the foot­steps of an­other out­spo­ken Chris­tian con­ser­va­tive, Mike Huck­abee, who won this pri­mary four years ago. Mr. Rom­ney boasts the sup­port of pop­u­lar Gov. Bill Haslam, while Mr. Gin­grich is get­ting plugs from one of the state’s most col­or­ful po­lit­i­cal fig­ures: for­mer se­na­tor, movie ac­tor and “Law & Or­der” star Fred Thompson. At stake are 55 del­e­gates.

Dot­ted with drilling rigs and cat­tle ranches, Ok­la­homa strad­dles the South and the Great Plains and sits squarely among the red­dest of the red states. Mr. San­to­rum tagged it “ground zero of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment,” and his an­tiabor­tion, pro-fam­ily val­ues mes­sage at­tracts en­thu­si­as­tic crowds here. The other three hope­fuls also have dropped in, hop­ing to prove their con­ser­va­tive bona fides to the Okies. It of­fers 40 del­e­gates.

What’s the deal with Virginia? Mr. Gin­grich would love to com­pete in this South­ern state, but he’s not. Only Mr. Rom­ney and Mr. Paul landed spots on the bal­lot, by hav­ing early or­ga­ni­za­tions strong enough to col­lect the re­quired 10,000 sig­na­tures. That leaves Virginia mostly a cu­rios­ity. What kind of show­ing can Mr. Paul muster go­ing toe-to-toe with Mr. Rom­ney? The fight is for 46 del­e­gates.

Mr. Rom­ney ter­ri­tory: There’s lit­tle drama in the North­east­ern races. Mr. Rom­ney’s vir­tu­ally un­op­posed in his power base of Mas­sachusetts, where he was gov­er­nor un­til a lit­tle more than five years ago. Del­e­gates: 38. He’s ex­pected to win neigh­bor­ing Ver­mont hand­ily, too, although Mr. San­to­rum seeks to peel away some of its 17 del­e­gates.

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