Santorum Emerging as Romney's Conservative Alternative

With wins in Alabama and Mississippi, Santorum pulls away from Gingrich and Paul.

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Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are being increasingly marginalized in the Republican presidential race.

After Tuesday's voting in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii, Gingrich and Paul have fallen further behind in national momentum and are badly losing the delegate contest--which is what really counts, because that will determine who wins the GOP nomination. The winning candidate will need a majority of 1,144 delegates.

[See pictures of Rick Santorum.]

Gingrich has won only South Carolina and his home state of Georgia. Paul hasn't won a single state.

On Tuesday, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Hawaii and American Samoa. They have separated themselves from Gingrich and Paul.

The delegate count stands at 495 for Romney, 252 for Santorum, 131 for Gingrich and 48 for Paul, according to the Associated Press.

Romney is benefiting from having multiple opponents. His three rivals are dividing the most conservative and libertarian vote. This allows Romney to gain a plurality of delegates over time.

Santorum is increasingly emerging as the conservative alternative to Romney, shunting both Gingrich and Paul aside.

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