Southern States Head To Polls

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 10:15am

The GOP Presidential candidates vie for Southerners' hospitality - in the form of votes.

Mississippi and Alabama hold their Presidential Primaries today. It's a test of whether frontrunner Mitt Romney can capture the party's conservative base.

The polls are tight in Mississippi and Alabama. Gingrich is leading but Romney is within striking distance, and all three trying their best to appeal to southern voters. "Looking forward to going out and hunting with you sometime," said Mitt Romney, (R) Presidential Candidate.

"I kind of feel relatively at home here. In fact this morning when I had grits I thought it was a very normal thing to do," said Newt Gingrich, (R) Presidential Candidate.

But southern voters say today's primaries are about more than just grits and gravy. "When they start talking about grits and biscuits and gravy, it's seems like they're kind of talking up to us," said Andrew Collins, Owner, Lyric Hot Dogs & Grill.

"I don't think anyone is going to vote because they actually are hunters, or they like cheese grits. I don't think that really matters to most voters in the South," said Romney Supporter, David McGrath.

"We need someone not to just say I came down here, I ate grits, we know what you need," said Kimberly Barnett, Santorum Supporter.

Like cheaper gas. Gingrich and Santorum both talked about gas prices Monday. "If we developed our energy capacity to the degree we could that that would bring down the price of gasoline," said Newt Gingrich, (R) Presidential Candidate.

While Santorum’s conservative message plays well in the south, he admits it's been tough. "We're just sucking hard on that swizzle stick trying to get as much air as we can in to keep ourselves alive and we've been doing it," Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate.

Gingrich needs to win the south to keep his campaign alive. Santorum's got the edge with Evangelicals. In the last election, that's how three out of four voters here identified themselves.

But this year, republicans want to win. "We're doing real well in Mississippi," claims Mitt Romney, (R) Presidential Candidate.

And for many that means going with the candidate who polls show has the best chance in November.

Tracie Potts, NBC News, Washington.

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