Santorum wins Alabama, Mississippi

Rick Santorum swept primaries in Ala­bama and Mississippi on Tuesday night, dealing a potentially devastating blow to the presidential candidacy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Mitt Romney was running third in both states.

“We did it again,” Santorum told cheering supporters in Lafayette, La. He said it was time for conservatives to unite in an effort to defeat Romney, the faraway leader in the competition for Republican National Convention delegates.

Romney bristled in the hours before the votes were counted, saying Santorum was “at the desperate end of his campaign.”

Without a win Tuesday in what is essentially his home region, Gingrich could find it difficult to marshal the resources and a rationale to continue his campaign.

He gave no indication Tuesday night that he would end his bid, and he grasped for a silver lining in the fact that Romney had also fallen short.

“The elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” Gingrich said at a rally in Birmingham, Ala. “If you’re a front-runner and you keep coming in third, you’re not much of a front-runner.”

In Alabama, with 80 percent of the precincts counted, Santorum was pulling 35 percent of the vote, Gingrich had 29 percent and Romney 28 percent. Returns from 93 percent of Mississippi’s precincts showed Santorum with 33 percent, Gingrich 31 percent and Romney 30. Rep. Ron Paul was a distant fourth in both.

As elsewhere, Romney and his allies outspent rivals on radio and television ads by huge margins. But most Republicans in the region are evangelical Christians, a group that shunned Romney in nearly every state that has voted so far.

Initial results of exit polls Tuesday found 8 out of 10 in Mississippi, and a slightly smaller share in Alabama, were white evangelicals.

Conservative strategist Keith Appell said it’s time for Gingrich to step aside in favor of Santorum.

“Newt has given it a great run, but Rick Santorum has earned a mano-a-mano shot at Mitt Romney,” Appell said.

Gingrich’s campaign a week ago said he had to win Alabama and Mississippi – as well as Louisiana and Texas – to stay credible.

Laying out Santorum’s steep challenge in accumulating delegates, Romney sought to play down the potential danger ahead.

“If you look at the math of how many delegates he’d have to win to become the nominee, it’s a very difficult road for him,” he said.
Santorum’s camp had earlier issued a memo that dismissed as fuzzy math Romney’s claim that he is on track to amass a delegate majority. Romney is also well short of the
1,144 delegates it will take to clinch the nomination. At this point, it is almost mathematically impossible for any of his rivals to reach that goal, but they are holding onto a hope that by denying him the number he needs, they can take the fight to the convention.

More

Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

... Read more