Southern showdown: Mitt Romney could end Republican primary if he wins tonight in Alabama and Mississippi

Mitt Romney has a shot at ending the struggle for the Republican presidential primary if he wins primaries in the deeply conservative states of Mississippi and Alabama tonight

The on-again-off-again frontrunner is currently locked in a surprisingly tight three-way battle with former Pennsylvania Sen Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Polls show him slightly ahead in Alabama and trailing Gingrich by two points in Mississippi.

Romney, a Harvard-educated Yankee from Boston who recently bragged about discovering cheese grits, initially tried to tamp down expectations about his performance in the Deep South. But he hit both states full-force on Monday with Southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

‘I think it’s over if he wins here,’ Mississippi Gov Phil Bryant, a Romney backer, told Politico after a rally in Jackson.

‘At that point how do you go and say, “I’m the most conservative candidate” if you can’t win the most conservative state in the country?’

Alabama’s state GOP chair Bill Armistead echoed a similar sentiment about his state.

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