Just in case you think that the 2012 Republican presidential Death March, aka primary season, can not get any more convoluted and complex, here comes Rick Santorum to win not just Alabama but also Mississippi and take two deep South states.
Starting in Mississippi, with 99% of the precincts reporting as of this writing, Mr. Santorum leads Newt Gingrich, 33% to 31% with Mitt Romney coming in a solid third with 30%.
In Alabama, also with 99% of the precincts reporting, Mr. Santorum had a stronger win taking 35% of the vote and Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney tied for second each coming in at 29%. But by actual votes, Mr. Gingrich is ahead of Mr. Romney by about 2042 votes.
To cut to the chase, this is what happened tonight.
Mr. Santorum is the only other viable candidate to go up against Mr. Romney.
Mr. Gingrich needs to leave with what little grace he has and if he is serious about wanting a conservative he should immediately endorse Mr. Santorum.
But I do not think the former House speaker will do that.
If he should "suspend" the campaign, he will simply not endorse anyone. He will just let the process play out.
Mr. Romney did better than I would have thought in these two states in the deep South. If he does finish third in both of these races, it will not be because he was blown out.
And if Mr. Romney is the GOP standard-bearer in 2012, these states will vote for him over the Dear Leader, President Obama. This was their chance to say, essentially, we don't particularly have an inclination to vote for Mitt now, but come November, we will crawl over broken glass to do so.
Tonight were two big wins for Rick Santorum. He is now the co-front runner along with Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich needs to go away.
And this will continue.
After all, we have to wait to see who wins the Hawai'i caucus later tonight!