The Mississippi primary results are in the spotlight on Tuesday night.
Going into the contest, the outcome of the race remained difficult to predict, according to the latest polls.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was hoping to score a win in the Magnolia State, as well as in the Alabama primary, in his effort to give new life to his presidential campaign. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were also hoping to make a splash with their respective performances in the presidential battleground.
Ron Paul is also on the ballot in Mississippi.
Voters in Hawaii also hit the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the state's caucus.
Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold.
The Santorum campaign emailed supporters asking would-be donors to help the campaign "build on our 'game changing wins.'" The email reads:
We did it again.
Tonight we won both the Alabama and Mississippi primaries.
We did it without million of dollars in TV ads or a friendly media. Our campaign did it with the help of friends like you. And I hope I can count on your generosity one more time.
Help us build on our "game changing" wins by donating $25, $50, $100 or more at our website right now.
All doubt has been removed. Despite what Mitt Romney's Boston consultants want you to believe, REAL VOTERS want a principled conservative in the White House. And they're increasingly coming to our side.
That's why your donation of $25 or more is so important right now.
We are aiming to raise 1 million dollars in the next 24 hours. I know we can do it. We must if we are going to counter the new wave of negative attacks from the Romney campaign.
You're a key part of that strategy. You've shown you believe in our campaign. Now I need you to recommit to that belief by donating $25 or more right now at our website.
Help us continue our winning streak. Donate $25 or more to help us right now.
And thank you for everything you do for our campaign.
Fighting for America.
-- Jason Cherkis
|@ BuzzFeedBen : Add http://t.co/YajnFirF to the list of things we'll miss. It's down http://t.co/wHQ0YS2V|
|@ samsteinhp : Santorum spox Gidley to Huffpost: "I heard them say earlier that it was the end of a desperate campaign– was he talking about his own?"|
|@ newtgingrich : Thank you Mississippi and Alabama. The fight continues! On to Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana. Join us: http://t.co/KMaPqbT5 #250gas|
|@ feliciasonmez : So if Newt's aim in staying in race is to prevent Romney from winning nomination, can't he better achieve that goal ... by dropping out?|
|@ washingtonpost : "When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside'' - first words of song playing when Gingrich left stage tonight.|
|@ Steele_Michael : much more subdued speech by Newt. clearly Al and MS stung.|
|@ jamiedupree : Gingrich goes tomorrow to Illinois where a poll had him far behind Romney and Santorum|
Newt Gingrich spoke with supporters Tuesday night after rival Rick Santorum won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries.
Gingrich said "we'd like to come in first," but was ready to congratulate Santorum on "a positive evening and a positive result." He then launched into an attack on Mitt Romney, who had a poor showing in tonight's primaries.
"If you're a front runner and you're coming in third, you're not much of a front runner," Gingrich said.
"One of the things tonight proved is that the elite media's effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed," Gingrich said. "The fact is in both states the conservative candidates got nearly 70 percent of the vote."
Gingrich continued his #250gas effort during his speech, bashing Obama for gas prices and insisting he has a solution to get gas prices down to $2.50 per gallon.
"We would never ever again bow to a Saudi king," Gingrich said, noting that America would not rely on the Middle East if he were elected president.
Gingrich made a prediction for the upcoming week, which includes Saturday's Missouri caucus.
"We'll now have three or four days of the media saying 'why doesn't Gingrich quit,'" Gingrich said. "The biggest challenge will be raising money because we came in second, which wasn't as much as we wanted."
-- Paige Lavender
|@ jonward11 : Gingrich: "The biggest challenge will be raising money b/c we came in second which wasn't as much as we wanted."|
|@ TPCarney : Here's one way to look at it. For every 50 delegates awarded, Santorum needs to gain 8 on Mitt. After tonight's 50 delegates, Santorum +4.|
|@ michaelpfalcone : RT @jdickerson: Best news for Romney tonight is that Gingrich isn't getting out.|
|@ feliciasonmez : "The elite media's effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable has collapsed." -- Gingrich|
|@ jamiedupree : Gingrich: "I congratulate Rick Santorum on a great campaign"|
|@ aterkel : Mitt Romney, yesterday in Alabama: "We're going to win tomorrow." http://t.co/AoriroGX (via @BuzzFeedAndrew)|
Reps. Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner, Alabama incumbents opposed by the Campaign for Primary Accountability Super PAC, appear to be cruising to victory on Tuesday:
-- Matt Sledge
|@ GingerGibson : Callista introducing Newt. Giving the exact same remarks she gives every single time.|
|@ mkraju : Gingrich campaign says it's still a three-way race|
On Monday, Mitt Romney predicted that he would win Alabama's GOP primary, telling voters, "We're going to win tomorrow" (via BuzzFeed):
Some dreams don't come true. Romney lost to Rick Santorum.
-- Amanda Terkel
|@ GingerGibson : Newt's campaign has been telling us for the last day or two that being close was enough for him to go forward.|
Rick Santorum scored a victory in Alabama on Tuesday night, while the winner in Mississippi has not yet been declared.
Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign and a native of Alabama, called it a "remarkable night" for Santorum during an interview with CNN. He called it a "pretty bad night" for Mitt Romney and "not a great night by any means" for Newt Gingrich, who was a congressman from Georgia and considers the South his home territory.
Gibbs, however, took particular aim at Romney, questioning the campaign's confidence that God was on Romney's side.
CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Gibbs about Romney's statement on Tuesday that Santorum was at the "desperate end of his campaign."
"I think it sounds like Romney thought he was going to do a whole lot better in Alabama and Mississippi than the actual results reflect right now. I don't think -- look, Mitt Romney has said -- his campaign has said, that it would take an act of God for him not to be the nominee. Usually a campaign with divinity on its side would be doing better than they are tonight."
Indeed, on March 7, a Romney official confidently said, "As you can tell all we have to do is keep doing what we're doing and we can get to the nomination. For those guys it's going to take some sort of act of God to get to where they need to be on the nomination front."
-- Amanda Terkel
Click here for a look at the night's biggest winners and losers.
One prominent conservative said Tuesday that Newt Gingrich should stay in the race despite losses in Alabama and Mississippi.
The losses could "hurt Gingrich," but did not need to knock him out of the race, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Fox Business Network, speaking before either race was called.
"What it will do is perhaps put pressure on Newt Gingrich even though, quite frankly, I don't think Newt ought to pull out just because he doesn't win these two states," said Huckabee, who ran for the GOP nomination in 2008. "It's just too tight, and no one has 1,144 delegates."
Gingrich has indicated that he plans to remain in the race, and his campaign is furiously attempting to walk-back previous statements that losses would hurt the candidate's credibility. Huckabee said that Gingrich will likely be encouraged by Mitt Romney to stay in the running, but that "Newt's going to stay in because Newt wants to stay in."
"Newt Gingrich is going to stay in until his money runs out or until his followers and supporters tell him to get out and frankly I agree with him," he said. "I think that's right, because someone ahead of him could slip up. And if that happens, then he moves into a position where he could start really being the key challenger."
Huckabee also downplayed the importance of the South in general. He pointed out that John McCain won relatively few southern states in 2008, showing that performing well in the South is important, but not necessary. He joked that Santorum will almost certainly say that wins in Alabama and Mississippi mean he is stronger with conservatives overall.
"That's what he's going to say, and if it turns out for him like it did for me, he'll get a new show on Fox sometime next year," Huckabee said.
Looking ahead, Huckabee said he does not expect to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee, adding that it would more likely be someone like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or "a female that might be a great running mate."
"I haven't been invited to the dance, so I haven't bought the corsage and really I don't plan to," he said.
-- Elise Foley
|@ ProducerMatthew : New York Times delegate count: Santorum gets 12, Gingrich 7, Romney 6 in Alabama so far.|
|@ GingerGibson : Singing the national anthem here at Newt party. Crowd still not really large. Wonder if giving a short speech will send people home.|
|@ chucktodd : Romney does HIT 30% in MS... breaking the 28% rut he was in with OK/SC/TN/AL and 26% in GA. There's your Southern ceiling|
Mitt Romney campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom did his best to lower expectations for the evening in an appearance on CNN, telling Anderson Cooper that the former Massachusetts governor wasn't supposed to win either of the Southern primaries tonight.
"I don’t think anyone expected Mitt Romney to win Alabama or Mississippi," Fehrnstrom said. "This is a delegate contest and, like I said, our goal was to take a third of the delegates. Once the dust clears, there will be no ground that our opponents have made against Mitt Romney."
Even if, say, Santorum were to pull out a win in Alabama, Mississippi or both, Fehrnstrom argued that it wouldn't significantly change the mathematics of the race.
"If you look at the calendar, there are no opportunities for them to have significant wins," Fehrnstrom said of Santorum and Gingrich. "If someone can explain to me their pathway to 1,144 [delegates], I'm here."
-- Dave Jamieson
Rick Santorum has won the Mississippi primary, Fox News projected.
Rick Santorum spoke with supporters after winning the Alabama primary Tuesday night.
"We did it again," Santorum said.
The former Pennsylvania senator immediately took a hit at his rival Mitt Romney.
"For someone who thinks this race is inevitable, he spent a whole lot of money against me," Santorum said.
Santorum shifted his focus to Obama, hitting the president on the recent hot-button issue of rising gas prices. Speaking in what he called "the heart of the oil and gas industry," Santorum said "this president almost put this whole region out of business" with his environmental policies.
"We will put this town and this region back to work so you can go back to work and have a better quality of life," Santorum said.
Santorum said he was "so encouraged" by his support in recent primaries, especially those in the southern states.
"This campaign is about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things, sort of like America," Santorum said, noting that his campaign is about "giving."
"This is a grassroots campaign for president," Santorum said. "Who would've ever thought in the age of media that we have in this country today that ordinary folks from across this country can defy the odds day in and day out?"
Santorum said he's already looking ahead to next week, noting his campaign expects a big win in the upcoming Louisiana primary and Missouri caucus. Santorum said he's heading to Puerto Rico tonight and will devote two days to campaigning there.
"We're campaigning everywhere there are delegates because we are going to win this nomination before that convention," Santorum said.
-- Paige Lavender
|@ jonward11 : Santorum: "We're campaigning everywhere there are delegates b/c we are going to win this nomination before that convention."|
|@ jamiedupree : Santorum flying to Puerto Rico tonight; will campaign there on Wednesday and Thursday|
|@ feliciasonmez : "Missouri is next. We did well in the primary. We expect to do even better in the caucuses this weekend." -- Santorum|
|@ KellyO : .@RickSantorum tells crowd why he came here "We will put this town (Lafayette,LA) and this region back to work" talking about energy/oil|
|@ daveweigel : Number of MS polls where Santorum led: 0|
|@ mmurraypolitics : With 90% in, Santorum leads Gingrich by 3,000-plus votes in Mississippi.... Santo leads Romney by nearly 7,000 there|
|@ shushwalshe : Santorum: "This is a grassroots campaign for president...ordinary folks across this country can defy the odds over & over again."|
|@ jamiedupree : DOUBLE WIN? As Santorum speaks in Lafayette, Louisiana, his lead edges over 3,000 votes in Mississippi|
|@ HuffPostMedia : CNN making lots of hay out of Mitt telling Blitzer Rick is at the 'desperate end' of his campaign. Quote's haunting him just 5 hrs later.|
Two House Republicans from Alabama are facing tough challenges from opponents backed by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, an anti-incumbent Super PAC that last week scored a big win with the defeat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) in her primary.
In Alabama, the Campaign for Primary Accountability backed Dean Young and Scott Beason against incumbent Republican Reps. Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner. So far, the upstart candidates are falling behind in partial, unofficial results. Bachus has 64 percent of the votes in the 6th Congressional District and Bonner has 57 percent of the votes in the 1st Congressional District. Both candidates need at least 50 percent to avoid a runoff.
-- Matt Sledge
|@ feliciasonmez : Four years ago, 69% of Mississippi GOP primary voters were born-again/evangelical. This year, more than 80%, per early exits.|
|@ RyanLizza : The demographic patterns are so consistent in states that have voted we can basically predict the results of every state from here on out.|
|@ daveweigel : Rep. Aderholt, Santorum endorser, at Bachus party; says Gingrich should probably drop out|
|@ KellyO : Here's a brief look at moment of spontaneous prayer at Santorum HQ party. http://t.co/xUmABUJE|
|@ shushwalshe : On Fox, AL Gov who voted but didn't endorse Santorum says he "felt like Sen. Santorum would win" he didn't want to "tell people how to vote"|
Rick Santorum spoke with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Tuesday after NBC projected him the winner of the Alabama primary. He hit Romney during the appearance, saying it's "laughable" that the former Massachusetts governor is touting himself as a conservative.
"It's laughable to any conservative that's followed what's going on in this country over the last 20 years," Santorum said.
Santorum also took a hit at the pro-Romney super PAC during his appearance, noting that that's where the majority of spending on Romney's campaign is coming from.
"Governor Romney's campaign is, I'm sure, not much healthier than mine," Santorum said.
During the interview, van Susteren confronted the GOP hopeful about his recent comments accusing Fox News of "shilling" for rival Romney. Santorum assured van Susteren that her show, along with Sean Hannity's, have been "awesome" and that he thought the problem with Fox remained with the news shows.
"You are fair and balanced," Santorum told van Susteren.
Santorum said he feels "very confident" about his chances against Mitt Romney, especially with conservative voters in the South.
"The voters out here know he's not a conservative you can trust," Santorum said. "Governor Romney has a problem not only with his policies but with what his policies did."
When asked about the upcoming races in more moderate states, Santorum cited his wins in Minnesota and Colorado. He said he feels his campaign can "go to any state in this country" and "take it to Governor Romney on the issues."
-- Paige Lavender