Primaries too close to call as Newt clings on
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Wednesday 14 March 2012
The main Republican presidential contenders were last night locked in tight three-way races in primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, where defeat in either could doom the candidacy of the former Speaker Newt Gingrich, setting up a one-on-one contest between front runner Mitt Romney and social conservative Rick Santorum.
Exit polls pointed to a narrow Romney victory in Mississippi and success for Mr Santorum in Alabama, while early real vote returns in both put the former Pennsylvania senator fractionally ahead. Essentially, though, all three were clustered around 30 per cent in both states and two hours after polls closed, no TV network was daring to predict the outcome in either. Nonetheless a win in even one would be a huge boost for Mr Romney, destroying the conventional wisdom that a Mormon Yankee, a former governor of liberal Massachusetts, could not carry a southern conservative state, and sealing his position as overwhelming favourite to be crowned at August's nominating convention in Tampa, Florida.
At stake were 47 convention delegates in Alabama and 37 in Mississippi, as well as a combined 25 in Hawaii and American Samoa, which were holding caucuses. A failure to register a win in the deep south would pile pressure on Mr Gingrich, who has staked all on a so-called 'Southern strategy'.
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