Who says Rom­ney can’t win in South?

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

The show­down be­tween Rick San­to­rum and Newt Gin­grich over which can­di­date is the true “con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive” to Mitt Rom­ney was sup­posed to be the big story in Tues­day’s GOP con­tests in Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi — but polls show the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor is poised to re­write the nar­ra­tive that he can’t win in the Deep South.

Mr. Rom­ney, a Mor­mon from a North­east state, ex­pected a de­gree of dif­fi­culty in the South — at one point, he ac­knowl­edged that the Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi con­tests rep­re­sented “an away game.” But polls in both states

show Mr. Rom­ney, Mr. San­to­rum and Mr. Gin­grich run­ning neck-and-neck, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas bring­ing up the rear.

“I see a real close three-per­son race,” said Richard C. Ford­ing, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Alabama. “There is a sce­nario for Rom­ney to win, and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if he did. That would be a big sym­bolic vic­tory for him. Sym­bolic in that at least he could claim he won a deep red state in the South.”

Mr. San­to­rum bol­stered his ar­gu­ment over the week­end that he is best equipped to go head-to-head with Mr. Rom­ney af­ter eas­ily de­feat­ing the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor in the Kansas cau­cuses.

Mr. San­to­rum won 33 of the state’s 40 del­e­gates, push­ing him into sec­ond place, ahead of Mr. Gin­grich, in the chase for the 1,144 del­e­gates needed to wrap up the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­na­tion.

In ad­di­tion to Kansas, the for­mer se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia has won cau­cuses in Iowa, Colorado, Min­nesota and North Dakota, as well as pri­maries in Ten­nessee and Ok­la­homa and a non­bind­ing pri­mary in Mis­souri.

Mr. Gin­grich has won two South­ern states, emerg­ing vic­to­ri­ous in South Carolina and Ge­or­gia, a state he rep­re­sented in Congress for 20 years. The for­mer House speaker pre­dicted vic­tory in Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi, and sug­gested that he plans to stay in the race no mat­ter what hap­pens Tues­day.

Both men, though, have fallen well be­hind Mr. Rom­ney in the over­all del­e­gate count. The for­mer gov­er­nor has col­lected more del­e­gates than all of his ri­vals com­bined. The Rom­ney camp has made the case that it is nearly im­pos­si­ble for an­other can­di­date to get the del­e­gates needed to se­cure the nom­i­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press count, Mr. Rom­ney is lead­ing the pack with 454; Mr. San­to­rum has 217; Mr. Gin­grich, 107; and Mr. Paul, 47.

It’s a big enough lead that the Rom­ney camp has de­cided the can­di­date has noth­ing more to gain from de­bat­ing his ri­vals: a Rom­ney spokesman an­nounced

Rom­ney

Gin­grich

San­to­rum

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