By Happy Carlock |
While former Sen. Rick Santorum claimed victory in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday evening, defying the expectations and money spent by the Romney campaign, former Gov. Mitt Romney actually came out on top with delegates. Romney won 41 delegates compared to 35 for Santorum, 24 for Gingrich, and one for Ron Paul, according to ABC News' tally. (Several delegates in Alabama and Hawaii were yet to be allocated as of Wednesday morning.)
If Santorum wants to really run a competitive race against Romney for delegates, Gingrich must exit the race. And there are media reports calling now calling the Romney/Santorum competition a "two-man race." Just look at the overall delegate count: Mitt Romney has 495; Rick Santorum has 252; Newt Gingrich has 131; and Ron Paul has 48 delegates. If Gingrich wasn't in the race, it is likely those voters would go to Santorum and he would have 383 delegates. This would be at least within some type of striking range to take on Romney.
However, in order to make it so, Gingrich will have to step aside. And the former speaker has announced he is going to attempt to compete all the way to the GOP convention. The Mississippi and Alabama returns only encouraged Gingrich because he came in second place and beat Romney.
With virtually no chance to win, this simply looks like a Gingrich revenge race against Romney's negative attacks on the former speaker early in the primary contests. Ironically, for Gingrich to take out Romney he may simply have to step aside. And there is no way the former speaker will step down twice on a major national stage during his career.
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Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Krystal Ball MSNBC Contributor and Former Democratic Nominee for Congress in the First District of Virginia