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Santorum says he could knock Gingrich out of race quickly

at 08:22 PM ET, 03/08/2012

MOBILE, Ala.— Rick Santorum expressed hope on Thursday that he might be able to knock Newt Gingrich — his chief rival for second place in the Republican primary — out of the race within a week.

What it would take, Santorum told reporters before a speech here, would be wins or second-place finishes in the next three states to vote: Kansas on Saturday, and Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday.

“If we can finish first or second” in all three, Santorum said, that would “hopefully get the race down to two candidates.”

If that happens, Santorum said, he would still have a chance to overtake front-runner Mitt Romney — despite Romney’s lead in the all-important delegate count.

“Once this race gets down to one-on-one...conservatives will hopefully rally behind us,” Santorum said before a speech to an elegant dinner hosted by the Alabama Policy Institute at Mobile’s convention center. He dismissed Romney’s argument that he had become the inevitable Republican presidential candidate in November’s election: “He’s had a year to close the deal,” Santorum said, adding that he had not.

Santorum protested that Romney was insisting the race was over, before all the states had voted.

“He’s trying to win it by, you know, changing the rules of the game,” Santorum said.

 
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