Santorum says state can make his success Tuesday

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Rick Santorum urged Mississippi voters to support him in Tuesday’s party primary to make the Republican contest “a two-person race.”
The former Pennsylvania senator met enthusiastic supporters late Wednesday at Hawkeye Industries on Eason Boulevard, and his message was to put him on equal footing nationally with front-runner Mitt Romney.
“You have a candidate who talks the conservative message, when it’s popular to do so,” he told the crowd of 250. “But I’ve acted like the conservative.”
Santorum is looking for enough votes to knock Newt Gingrich out of the race.
His campaign narrowly misses crossing paths with Gingrich – who many of Santorum’s supporters urged to get out of the race after Santorum’s three Super Tuesday victories.
They say the former speaker of the U.S. House is blocking a fair fight between Santorum and Mitt Romney.
“You can change it all, Mississippi,” Santorum said.
He also got applause when he said President Obama, a Democrat, is taking America down the wrong road.
Mike Menard, a longtime Lee County Republican, said he was impressed with Santorum and thinks his choices lie with him or Gingrich.
“How can anybody criticize ObamaCare but have brought the same thing to his own state?” Menard said about a government-backed health care program, which is what Romney did as governor of Massachusetts.
Santorum won Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota on Super Tuesday, and in terms of the delegate count is in a solid second place.
But he was overshadowed by Romney’s victories in Ohio and five other states, and could have had a much bigger night had it not been for Gingrich’s presence and win in Georgia.
Gingrich, who has a Tupelo rally planned today, made clear that he will press on.
Mississippi and Alabama host party primaries Tuesday.
Most of the state’s elected GOP leadership has announced support for Romney.
Coming out of Super Tuesday, Romney has a big delegate lead with 415. Santorum trails with 176. Further behind are Gingrich with 105 and Ron Paul with 47.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com