The Ticket

Santorum super PAC goes big in the South

Chris Moody
The Ticket

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Rick Santorum campaigns in Mississippi. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

The super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans to spend "well over half a million" dollars on television airtime in Alabama and Mississippi before the primaries there next week.

The ad, which the pro-Santorum "Red, White and Blue Fund" first released in February, targets Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, hitting the former house speaker for supporting a government mandate to purchase health care in the 1990s and the former Massachusetts governor for championing a state health plan that included an individual mandate.

 "How can Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich beat Barack Obama?" the ad asks, pointing to their support for the type of mandate that was included in the federal health care overhaul passed in 2010.

 "On the heels of our call for Newt Gingrich to unite conservatives by exiting the race, now we are investing heavily in the next two primary states to ensure that happens with a Santorum victory," Stuart Roy, a spokesman for the Red, White and Blue Fund said. "Then voters will be able to have a choice between an authentic conservative in Santorum and a calculated conservative in Mitt Romney."

The ad buy comes amid an effort by Santorum and his allies to focus on the South and pressure Gingrich out of the race. Roy on Wednesday said it was time Gingrich dropped his bid for the White House, and the Santorum campaign is calling on conservatives to rally behind the former Pennsylvania senator. Gingrich, not surprisingly, rejected calls for him to bow out.

Santorum, Romney and Gingrich all have events planned over the next few days in Alabama and Mississippi, which will both hold primary elections on Tuesday, March 13.

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