Mitt Romney and the South go together like grits and quiche—which is a fancy way of saying they don’t. As Slate’s David Weigel reported yesterday, in the three Southern primaries so far (no, Florida doesn’t count), the GOP frontrunner has carried nine of 300 counties. On a radio show in Birmingham this morning, Romney admitted that next Tuesday’s Alabama primary was an “away game” for him. But he wants to make at least a respectable showing, which is plausible, especially with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum slugging it out for survival. Gingrich’s spokesperson says he’ll be out of the running if he doesn’t win both Alabama and Mississippi next week. Santorum, meanwhile, is pleading with folks to deal Gingrich a death blow: “If you go out and deliver a conservative victory for us on Tuesday, this race will become a two-person race. And when it becomes a two-person race, the conservative will win the nomination.”
Somewhat surprisingly, a poll out today from the Alabama Education Association has Romney leading in the state. But 20 percent said they were undecided, and Santorum and Gingrich are banking on the fact that while Romney’s stances on litmus-test issues have generally been just as far right as theirs, his “severe” conservatism doesn’t translate in Dixie, where the ideology generally comes with heavy doses of populist rhetoric. Not that Romney isn’t game to try and make a connection. Weigel memorably recounted one of his Tennessee campaign stops before Super Tuesday, where the former Massachusetts governor proclaimed that the state “has a special meaning in my heart, because when I grew up, I was thinking about Davy Crockett. I grew up watching—oh, what was it called—oh, Disneyland!” At which point he broke into a rendition of the Davy Crockett song (“Raised in the woods so he knew every tree/Killed himself a bear when he was only three.”). Will “Sweet Home Alabama” be next? We can only hope.
So They Say
"Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
—Vice President Joe Biden’s suggestion for a Democratic bumper sticker
Daily Meme: Math We Can Believe In
- It's hard to argue with Romney's delegate calculations, which indicate Santorum and Gingrich now can’t win enough to be nominated.
- Karl Rove agrees.
- So does political scientist Josh Putnam at FrontloadingHQ, and Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake at The Washington Post.
- But some conservatives are more skeptical.
- Nate Silver says a Santorum nomination is not “mathematically impossible.”
- But no matter the truth of the numbers, "Math We Can Believe In" makes an awful campaign message.
What We're Writing
- Steve Erickson: “This has been the month when one of the great political parties of the Western World in the last 200 years, a party co-founded by the nation’s greatest president, revealed itself to be in the grip of a sexual hysteria.”
- Paul Waldman: Romney’s top-down campaign spells trouble.
What We're Reading
- The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that former Governor Haley Barbour’s 200 pardons are valid.
- Breitbart’s Obama “expose” is a clunker.
- The GOP candidates court Guam.
- Joe Biden hits the campaign trail. Reporters salivate.
- Salon’s Irin Carmon asks: “Should women really trust the Democrats?”
- The Republican Jewish Coalition blasts Obama.
- For war advice, consult Sun-Tzu. For sound political advice, consult Cicero.
- The New York Times’s Gail Collins has mentioned Romney's dog, Seamus, 51 times now.
- Joshua Green explains why manufacturing is such a buzzword this election.
Poll of the Day
While support for Obama’s health-care reform has gone down slightly—from 39 percent to 35 percent—the number of Americans who fear that the quality of their care will suffer has dropped dramatically, from 47 percent to 32 percent.
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