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Gingrich focused on energy independence in his concession speech. He said that the Wall Street Journal confirmed that his pledge to bring the price of gasoline down to $2.50 per gallon is doable. Over 24 billion barrels of oil are believed to be in North Dakota alone, he said.
Gingrich admitted that the coming days would be tough for his campaign. He said that fundraising would suffer and that the next few days would be swarmed with calls on him to drop out. In his interview on FOX later that evening, he rejected the idea that his presence in the race is helping Romney by siphoning off votes from Santorum. He said that he can compete with Romney in places where Santorum did not qualify for the ballot, like Washington D.C. and Indiana.
Santorum’s victories are a blow to the Romney campaign’s efforts to argue that their victory is guaranteed. He said that Santorum is “at the desperate end of his campaign” and Romney’s team released a memo saying “the delegate math just doesn’t add up for anyone but Mitt” and “the only [person whose] odds of winning … are increasing are Barack Obama’s.”
Romney’s competitors remain committed to stopping him. Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax.com and a supporter of Gingrich, wrote that “The Romney team argues that their candidate needs 48 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination…Sure, it’s unlikely that Santorum or Gingrich can [win 1,144 delegates]…But it’s just as unlikely for Romney to get 48 percent of the remaining delegates.”
One factor moving forward will be Republican concerns over whether the long primary process and a possible brokered convention are hurting the eventual nominee’s chances. Political analyst Dick Morris feels that if there is a fight at the convention in late August, then “you can kiss our chances of defeating Obama goodbye.”
The next contest is on Saturday, March 17, when Missouri has a caucus that Santorum will probably win. Romney is expected to win the Puerto Rico primary on March 18. The most attention is devoted to the Illinois and Louisiana primaries that will take place on March 20 and March 24, respectively. The last poll in Illinois had Romney ahead by 4% and the last poll in Louisiana had Santorum up by 4%.
There is a debate scheduled in Oregon for March 19, but Mitt Romney has just backed out of it. It is unclear if his opponents will follow suit.
Santorum and Gingrich are openly hoping for a brokered convention. The conversation within the Republican Party is about to change as each voter evaluates the risks and benefits of not having a nominee until late August.
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