March 13, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Santorum wins in Alabama, Mississippi

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum scored two wins in the GOP primaries on Tuesday by adding Alabama and Mississippi to his column after prevailing in Kansas over the weekend.

The former U.S. senator, who’s known for his strong opposition to same-sex marriage and other anti-gay views, edged out his competitors in the most recent contests — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney,  former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

In Alabama, Santorum won 35 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Gingrich and Romney were tied with 29 percent of the vote.

In Mississippi, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum captured 33 percent of the vote, while Gingrich had 31 percent and Romney had 30 percent. Hawaii also held a contest on Tuesday; Romney won there with 45 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 25 percent and Gingrich’s 11.

Speaking at his campaign headquarters at Lafayette, La., Tuesday night, Santorum told supporters, “We did it again.”

“The most common thing I heard from people — and I know I’m not alone — is people come up and say, ‘I’m praying for you,’” Santorum said. “I just want to thank you for that. I want to thank God for giving us the strength everyday to go out there and to be clear in our message and our vision for this country.”

Santorum said the “best chance” for Republicans to win the November election is to nominate a conservative — likely a reference to Romney, who’s viewed as a more moderate candidate — and said he expects to have “a huge win” in the Louisiana primary, which will have its contest on March 24.

Hastings Wyman, who’s gay and editor of the Southern Political Report, said the results on Tuesday give Santorum “a big boost” — mostly because they show Santorum’s competitor as the anti-Romney alternative, Gingrich, has run out of steam.

“It sends a strong message to Gingrich that it’s time he got out,” Wyman said. “I don’t know whether he will or not, but if he can’t win those two states, there’s nowhere else he can win really.”

Although Romney has amassed more delegates leading up to the convention than either Santorum or Gingrich, Wyman said Santorum’s wins show he continues to have strength and could give Romney a run for his money for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I think Santorum is going to give Romney a strong race,” Wyman said. “He’s more youthful. The polls show he does very well with women, and think that’s because they find him personally attractive. I don’t mean some sort of sexually way, or anything like that. It’s just he’s young and handsome and they kind of like him. Romney’s too aloof, Gingrich is too cerebral, Paul is kind of the class nerd. I think Santorum comes across as somebody they really like.”

The candidate’s wins on Tuesday build off of his win on Saturday in the Kansas caucuses. Santorum won a majority of the vote in the state, while Romney came in a distant second with 20.9 percent of the vote.

But Thomas Witt, chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said he doesn’t think Santorum’s win in the state amounted to much because of the low turnout in the primary.

“I think there’s some perspective we can put Santorum’s victory in here,” Witt said. “There’s about 725,000 registered Republicans in the State of Kansas. Fewer than 30,000 participated in the caucuses. Of those, 15,000 voted for Santorum. That’s 2 percent of the Republicans in Kansas voting for Santorum. Polls have margins of error bigger than the number of Republicans that voted for him.”

Witt said he’s unaware of any anti-gay rhetoric that Santorum may have employed while campaigning in Kansas, which is known for being a socially conservative state. The activist said he followed news coverage carefully and talked to people at one of Santorum’s events in Topeka, but nothing related to LGBT issues came up.

Santorum is known for his opposition to LGBT rights. He’s signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage committing himself to back a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a commission of “religious liberty” to investigate the alleged harassment of those opposed to same-sex marriage. He has also said he would restore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president.

Other contests on Saturday took place in U.S. protectorates: Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Romney won in the first two places. Paul won the Virgin Islands, but Romney took more delegates because of the system there.

The next contest is set to be the Missouri caucuses on Thursday. Santorum won the primary in the state on Feb. 7, but his win was symbolic because delegates weren’t awarded then. Missouri has 52 delegates up for grabs during its caucuses. Following Missouri, the next contest will be Puerto Rico on Friday, Illinois on Sunday and Louisiana on March 24.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    THE AGE OF OLDER PRESIDENTS HAS PASSED. AS A YOUNGER MALE, MR. SANTORUM WOULD BE A GREAT REPUBLICAN NOMINEE. WHEN REPUBLICANS LOSE A PRESIDENTIAL RACE, AGE OFTEN PLAYS A ROLE.
    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

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