Winning Ticket? Ala., Miss. May Alter GOP Race

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Tuesday's southern showdown could dramatically impact the GOP presidential campaigns.

Candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are battling for the opportunity to dominate in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries.

The outcome could put an end to Gingrich's candidacy, add momentum for Santorum, or give clear front-runner status to Romney.

Fifty delegates in Alabama and 40 in Mississippi are up for grabs. Polling so far has shown that the top three candidates are in a statistical dead heat as voters head to the ballot box.

With so much at stake, the men are turning on their charm and hoping for southern hospitality.

"I'm learning to say 'y'all,'" Romney joked at a campaign stop. "Morning y'all. I like grits, a biscuit and some cheesy grits."

"Unlike one of my competitors I have had grits before," Gingrich snapped back. "If you don't understand grits, there's a pretty high likelihood you don't understand the rest of the south either."

The former House speaker has said he's going all the way to the Republican National Convention, but most analysts believe his survival depends on winning, Tuesday.

Gingrich has spent months pursuing an all-southern state strategy. But so far, he has only won South Carolina and Georgia.

With the stakes increasing, the candidates are getting personal in their attacks.

When asked if he would need to pick a running mate more conservative than he is, Romney responding saying, "Well, that would preclude Rick Santorum."

"His record suggests that he does not have the fiscal conservative chops that I have," he said.

"If I'm too liberal to be Mitt Romney's running mate, oh my goodness. It just shows you how desperate he is," Santorum responded at his own campaign stop.

Since last week, Romney's campaign has argued that it would be almost mathematically impossible for another candidate to win now. And Romney said waiting until the convention to pick a presidential nominee would spell disaster.

"If we go all the way to a convention ... we would signal our doom in terms of replacing President Obama," he claimed.

Obama is facing his own challenges. New polling shows a steep drop in the president's approval ratings.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed 50 percent of respondents disapprove of the job he's doing. A New York Times-CBS showed 47 percent of those surveyed disapprove.

 

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