A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway for Wednesday, March 14:
RICK'S RESURGENCE: Rick Santorum's campaign for the GOP nomination featured a fresh burst of enthusiasm Wednesday after his wins the day before in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries. The former Pennsylvania senator, who was campaigning in Puerto Rico, said winning more primaries will raise questions about whether Mitt Romney can continue to be called the front-runner. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a big lead in the delegate count and noted that he's gotten a million more votes than Santorum, which he said is a sign of his broad appeal to voters. Romney wiped out Santorum's Southern delegate gains by winning caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa. Romney has put nearly $1 million into television advertising in Illinois, the next big-state showdown.
NEWT'S UPHILL MISSION: Newt Gingrich is vowing to press on in his campaign, low on cash and amid pressure to leave the race. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, traveled to Illinois on Wednesday to campaign there ahead of its primary next Tuesday, and he's promising to take his fight to the party's national convention in Florida in late August. "He believes he can do this. But he and Callista are probably the only two people who believe it," said former top Gingrich aide Rich Galen, a GOP strategist. Still, Galen warned that Gingrich's status as an elder statesman of the party could take a hit if he continues his campaign much longer. "It makes him look foolish."
NEW CAMPAIGN SONG: Santorum's campaign announced that it has chosen "Remember Who We Are" by Nashville artist Krista Branch as one of its theme songs. Santorum said: "Our campaign has focused on returning to a government that believes in the American people again, and few songs express the beauty and strength of who we are as free Americans better than Krista's. ... `It's our time,' as the song says _ our time to take a firm, unwavering stand against big government; and it is our time to take our country back."
NCAA POLITICS: President Barack Obama is picking the North Carolina Tarheels to win the collegiate basketball championship. In doing so, he shines the spotlight on a swing state his campaign wants in the win column for the second straight presidential election. Obama has made multiple trips to the state as president after his narrow win there in 2008. It was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had won the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Obama visited Ohio, another swing state, with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday night for an opening round game of the NCAA basketball tournament.
AP DELEGATE TRACKER:
Totals after the vote in Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa. It takes 1,144 delegates to the Republican National Convention to win the presidential nomination.
_ Romney: 495
_ Santorum: 252
_ Gingrich: 131
_ Paul: 48
_ Saturday: Missouri caucuses
_ Sunday: Puerto Rico primary
_ March 20: Illinois primary
_ March 24: Louisiana primary
WHERE THEY'LL BE THURSDAY:
_ Gingrich: Illinois
_ Paul: Missouri
_ Romney: No public campaign events
_ Santorum: Puerto Rico.
_ Obama: Maryland
IN THEIR WORDS:
_"If we keep winning races, eventually people are going to figure out that Gov. Romney is not going to be the nominee." _ Santorum, to reporters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Puerto Rico.
_"You don't win a million more votes than anyone else in this race by just appealing to high-income Americans." _ Romney, to Fox News.
_"You are joking. ... It's a three-way dynamic." _ Gingrich adviser Tony Dolan, rejecting the notion that the race is down to Romney and Santorum.