MONTGOMERY, Ala., March 13 (UPI) -- When all the votes are counted in Alabama, Rick Santorum will be the winner in Alabama's Republican presidential primary Tuesday, news networks projected.
CNN gave Santorum 152,061 votes (35 percent) to 128,812 (30 percent) for Newt Gingrich and 123,839 (28 percent) for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul garnered 21,768 (5 percent) and several other candidates who have dropped out of the race got a smattering of votes.
Speaking to supporters in Birmingham, Gingrich congratulated Santorum for running "a great campaign" that produced a pair of wins in the South. Mississippi also went for Santorum Tuesday.
Gingrich thanked his supporters for giving him a portion of the two states' delegates, which he said, means "we're going to take a much bigger delegation" to the GOP National Convention in Florida.
The night's results, Gingrich said, were a big blow to Romney and "the elite media's efforts to convince the nation Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed."
"The fact is in both states the conservative candidates got nearly 70 percent of the vote and if you're the front-runner and keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner," Gingrich said.
Pre-election polls had shown the race for Alabama's 50 delegates to the GOP National Convention would be neck-and-neck-and-neck among Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, and Gingrich, the former House speaker from Georgia.
Forty delegates were at stake in Mississippi.