Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich speaks in Southaven - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich speaks in Southaven

(WMC-TV) - One day after Rick Santorum visited Tupelo, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich arrived in North Mississippi Thursday with stops in Tupelo and Southaven.

After his Super Tuesday win in Georgia, Gingrich is counting on southern Republicans to carry him forward.

DeSoto County residents showed up Thursday to hear Gingrich.  The residents were clearly excited that the nomination process has gone in a way that their vote can actually make a difference.

"This is a very, very important primary," said Gingrich, "the most important primary Mississippi has had for the presidency."

Gingrich took the stage in Southaven after an already long day in Mississippi.  With his newly-acquired secret service protection near him, he told residents that he is the best Republican to run against President Barack Obama.

Gingrich focused his speech on energy creation and independence, getting a big response from the crowd.

"I believe we should have a maximum effort to develop American energy, and I do believe there are economic and national security reasons," said Gingrich.

Gingrich considers Alabama another must win state.  He is scheduled for more stops throughout the day Friday.

Gingrich and Santorum are battling it out in southern states.  Coming off his Super Tuesday wins in Tennessee and Oklahoma, Santorum is claiming he is the only conservative running.

Primaries in Mississippi and Alabama are next Tuesday.

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