Republican race faces possible shake-up after Gingrich withdrawal whispers

 

The race for the Republican nomination could be on the cusp of a shake-up with aides to Newt Gingrich whispering for the first time that he needs to win in two southern states voting next week or face leaving the field.

The prospects for the former House speaker in Alabama and Mississippi, which vote on Tuesday are uncertain. A new Alabama poll shows Rick Santorum with a slight lead over Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. It puts Mr Gingrich almost 10 points down in third position.

Mr Gingrich has an obstinate streak and much will depend on his donors. But his withdrawal, after next Tuesday or even before, would significantly boost Mr Santorum who would no longer have to share the conservative vote with him and might have a more realistic shot at closing the delegate gap with Mr Romney.

“Were Newt Gingrich to suspend his campaign now, and endorse Rick Santorum, he could provide that unity and, through such a great act of statesmanship, open a new chapter in his storied political career,” Richard A Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com said in a statement.

Survival for Mr Gingrich has meant relying on a southern strategy, itself born out of his convincing win in South Carolina in January. While he prevailed in Georgia, which he represented in Congress for years, he did worse than expected this week in other southern states like Tennessee.

The super-PAC for Santorum on Wednesday urged Mr Gingrich to withdraw and said yesterday it would spend “well over half a million” dollars in TV spots in Alabama and Mississippi. “On the heels of our call for Newt Gingrich to unite conservatives by exiting the race, now we are investing heavily in the next two primary states to ensure that happens with a Santorum victory,” Stuart Roy, an advisor to the PAC, said.

The Romney campaign took its six-out-of-10 ‘Super Tuesday’ record as the moment to nudge all of his rivals to get out of the way arguing it would take an “act of God” for them to catch up with his delegate numbers. Mr Santorum hit back quickly. “What won’t they resort to, to try to bully their way through this race?” he asked. “If the governor now thinks he’s now ordained by God to win, then let’s just have it out.”

But the burial of Mr Gingrich may not be what Mr Romney wants. Had the speaker gone earlier, it is arguable that Mr Santorum would have taken states he lost to Romney by tiny margins, like Ohio and Michigan.

A last-minute cancellation of campaign appearances yesterday in Kansas, which has caucus voting Friday, sparked speculation that the Gingrich campaign was already winding down. More likely, it was a sign that he accepts that he has to focus on Mississippi and Alabama to avoid calamity there next week.

Austin Barbour, a Mississippi native and a member of the Romney national finance team, was among those saying Mr Gingrich would not make the grade next week in states that a while ago favoured him. “Newt is popular in Mississippi, and had Mississippi come right after South Carolina, no question he would’ve won, but it didn’t,” he said. “Now I think it’s a race where Santorum is probably the favourite.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television The BBC have commissioned a series of programmes doing away with high-production values, commentary, script or drama
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable