The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 8, 2012

ELECTION 2012: Presidential candidates converge in Alabama

The News Courier

From staff reports

Ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary, presidential candidates are appearing at campaign stops across the state in an effort to collect Alabama’s 47 delegates.

Rick Santorum will make an appearance today in Huntsville, according to published media reports. The former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania will hold a 10 a.m. rally at the Davidson Center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Political website Politico announced Wednesday a televised presidential forum will be held on Monday, though so far, only Newt Gingrich and Santorum have committed to appear.

The forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the 2,000-seat Alabama Theater in Birmingham. Doors to the free event will open at 3:30 p.m.

Following the Super Tuesday primaries, Santorum is second in delegates (176) behind frontrunner Mitt Romney (415).

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is in third with 105 delegates, appeared in Huntsville on Tuesday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. On Wednesday, he campaigned in Montgomery and Pell City.

Fresh off his primary victory in Georgia, Gingrich told a rally in Montgomery that he’s staying in the race and a moderate won’t be able to beat President Barack Obama in November.

He touted his Tuesday night win in his native Georgia as a “great victory” during the event at a downtown Montgomery hotel Wednesday morning. Georgia was the only state he won on Super Tuesday.

Ron Paul, who trails with 47 delegates, will also appear on Tuesday’s ballot, though his campaign website makes no mention of Alabama tour stops.

The Romney campaign’s decision to begin advertising in Alabama suggested a competitive race, as did a private poll and Gingrich’s decision to skip a trip to Kansas to focus his efforts on next week’s Southern primaries.

Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, appeared at a fundraising event in Birmingham in late February. On Wednesday, Romney picked up an endorsement from former Gov. Bob Riley.

“I am honored to receive the support of Governor Riley,” Romney said in a statement. “He spent his career standing up for the conservative principles of lower taxes and reduced spending. His service to Alabamians is long and distinguished and I am excited to work with him to spread my conservative message across the country.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.