What voters in Alabama and Mississippi are waking up to:
The Birmingham News’ five-column front-page headline: “GOP support up for grabs,” over three pictures, of Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney.
The Huntsville Times: “Forum features two GOP candidates.” Subhed: “Attendees mostly agree that Gingrich performed better than Santorum.”
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: “Decision Time.” Subhed: “Romney’s lead could be shaken or solidified.” It also features pictures of all three – Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum. (The headline below that: “Statewide voter turnout expected to be light.”)
Outside those two states, here’s the New York Post: “Redneck-&-neck: Romney looking strong down South.”
The Hill: “The presidential candidates are all facing high stakes, but for different reasons, on Tuesday as Mississippi and Alabama hold their primary contests.”
ROMNEY: First, it was owners of NASCAR teams, now the NFL. Asked on a radio show where he’d like to see Peyton Manning land, Romney said somewhere other than the AFC East, since he’s a Patriots fan. But he answered it this way: "I don't want him to go to Miami or the Jets. I got a lot of good friends -- the owners of the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets -- both owners are friends of mine….”
National Journal’s Jill Lawrence writes: “Romney didn't mention that Jets owner Woody Johnson is one of his national finance co-chairmen. A very good friend indeed. The $10,000 bet, the two Cadillacs, the $374,000 in speaking fees that Romney described as "not very much," the NASCAR team owners and now the football team owners -- it is getting hard to keep track of all the times Romney doesn't notice he is casually saying things that are completely outside the experience of regular people.”
The AP previews today’s contests with a focus on Romney: “Mitt Romney is working to seal his status as the Republican presidential front-runner with a thus-far-elusive victory in the Deep South.”
“After urging Mississippi and Alabama Republicans to speed him toward the presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is campaigning in Missouri ahead of its Saturday caucuses,” AP writes. Santorum won last month’s non-binding Missouri vote, but holds caucuses that will award delegates Saturday.
He turned 65 yesterday and has no plans to enroll in Medicare.
Romney called Santorum to the left of him on the economy: "I find it interesting that he continues to describe himself as the real conservative,” he said on FOX Business, per The Hill. “Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative to my right. His record does not suggest he has the fiscal conservative chops that I have."
Sasha Issenberg looks at Romney’s early voting advantage: “Romney's canny and competent handling of these varied early-voting processes this year has helped him accumulate a seemingly insurmountable lead in delegates. He is running the only modern, professional campaign against a field of amateurs gasping to keep up, and nowhere is that advantage more evident than in his mastery of early voting. Capitalizing on early-voting procedures demands formidable investment up front in the service of later savings." (Hat tip: Political Wire.)
Jeff Foxworthy may have endorsed Romney, but he doesn’t want to go hunting with him. "That sounds even more dangerous than Cheney if you ask me,” he said on CNN, per GOP 12. “We may start with a BB gun and work our way up to a rifle.”
Alabama’s governor thinks Mormonism could hurt Romney.
SANTORUM: Santorum on “TODAY” yesterday: “It’s a conservative party. If the opportunity provides itself at an open convention, they’re not going to nominate a moderate Massachusetts governor who has been outspending his opponent 10 to one and can’t win the election outright.”
Santorum will spend Election Day at his home in suburban Virginia today instead of on the campaign trail. He also said of Romney, "We already have a president who doesn't tell the truth. We don't need to nominate someone else who has that same problem."
Here’s this headline out of the New York Daily News: “Pro-Santorum pastor wants Romney to renounce his ‘racist’ Mormon faith.”
Is Bill Maher smarter than a 12-year-old? Rick Santorum doesn’t think so.