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Santorum Wins Alabama and Mississippi Primaries But Romney Will Take Nomination

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The seemingly endless Republican nomination race continues after Rick Santorum narrowly beat GOP front-runner Mitt Romney in Tuesday's Alabama and Mississippi primaries. Romney actually came in a close third in Alabama behind Newt Gingrich; he placed second in Mississippi.

Many news headlines suggest Santorum's three recent primary victories gives his campaign the momentum to defeat Romney for the nomination. But two veteran political strategists, one Democrat and one Republican, say Tuesday's wins mean nothing for Santorum in the long run because he has no chance of becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

Hank Sheinkfopf, member of President Bill Clinton's re-election team, and Ron Christie, former adviser to the President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, sat down with The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget to give their assessments of the GOP primary race as well as what this all means for Obama come November.

"What we learned last night is really not that much," says Christie, who is also the founder and president of Christie Strategies. "The Republican field is still somewhat in flux, but it seems of course that Governor Romney is the presumptive nominee for the party."

Sheinkopf, who is also the president of Sheinkopf Communications Ltd., agrees on both points. He says Santorum's victories come as no huge surprise since the former Pennsylvania senator has pinned his campaign on fighting for social issues, which are top issues in those very conservative states.

"We [also] learned that Gingrich should be leaving," Sheinkopf says. "But we knew that already." Gingrich has won only two nomination contests to date, including his home state of Georgia. Romney has 18 wins under his belt; Santorum 10 victories.

Gingrich has vowed time and time again he will stay in the race until the GOP convention in Tampa. After his second place win Tuesday night in Alabama, here's what he told supporters: "One of the things tonight proves is that the elite media's efforts to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed," Gingrich said. "If you're the front-runner and keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner."

Christie agrees with Sheinkopf that Gingrich's run is over. "Gingrich's candidacy with every increasing day is less and less viable that he has any path to the nomination," Christie says. He believes the former Speaker of the House could be holding on in hopes of a book deal or maybe a media-related contract.

If Romney is the likely nominee, Henry asks, why then the need for a media circus? Sheinkopf boils it down to Americans' need for drama, gossip and entertainment.

Chrisite is on this same page as well. "You need a soap opera line… to keep people compelled to listen and to tune in," he says. What will that line be? It could be "Santorum becoming the David to Romney's Goliath," says Christie.

The one point where these two political experts disagree is over who will take the White House in November. As you might expect, Sheinkopf believes Obama will win the general election by a small margin while Christie maintains the GOP nominee will become the nation's next president.

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