Southern Primaries Preview: Romney Lead Puts Pressure On Gingrich, Santorum

Mitt Romney’s official campaign slogan is “Believe in America.” But unofficially, at least for the primaries, it might as well be “Divide and Conquer.”

On the eve of the next round of nominating contests – Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi and caucuses in Hawaii – that’s the name of the game for the Republican presidential frontrunner.

And as long as both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrichremain in the race, dividing the “not-Romney” vote, the former Massachusetts governor is well-positioned to build on his lead in the delegate count and head into the Tampa party convention in August with the most delegates, if not the majority.

Polls of Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi show a three-way dead heat. But the stakes for each candidate are distinctly different.

“It’s likely to be a long night,” says Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who has worked on campaigns in the South. “If Romney wins one, this could wind down. If he wins both that might be just short of historic.”

Going forward, Romney’s best “firewall” is Gingrich’s ego, Mr. O’Connell says.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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published this page in In The News 2012-03-13 06:32:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy