As Gingrich Stumbles On, Many See A Romney-Santorum Race

It turns out that Newt Gingrich will not take "no" for an answer.

A day after finishing second in Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that he had cast as must-wins for his flailing campaign, Gingrich pressed forward on Wednesday, even as calls for him to drop out persisted.

But as Gingrich campaigned in Illinois - which on Tuesday will host the next big contest in the state-by-state fight for the Republican nomination - it was clear that many Republicans now see the race as a two-man battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Republican leaders and activists speculated openly about the impact of a Gingrich withdrawal, and whether conservatives who support the former U.S. House speaker would flock to Santorum and make him competitive with Romney, the Republican front-runner.

"Rick Santorum really needs Newt Gingrich to get out of the race," said unaffiliated Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "Gingrich may only be taking 10 to 15 percent of the vote as the race goes on, but the majority of that would otherwise be going to Santorum and that makes a huge difference.

"Romney is, without a doubt, the beneficiary the longer Gingrich stays in the race. ... This race is going to keep going and going."

Read more from Deborah Charles and John Whitesides

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published this page in In The News 2012-03-14 20:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy