Gingrich gains could help Romney in Ala., Miss.

(CBS News) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - It's another primary day in the Republican presidential race.

Mississippi and Alabama vote Tuesday, followed by a late-night caucus in Hawaii.

Polls in the two Southern states show the race is incredibly close.

A week ago, people here were saying Rick Santorum would win this state and Mississippi, just as he won Tennessee. But Newt Gingrich has made it a fight. It's now so close, people who've followed politics a long time in this state say they have no idea who will win - it could be either one - and, since they're splitting the conservative vote, it could even be Mitt Romney.

Gingrich was down but he wouldn't get out, and now he's back and sounding confident.

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"We have momentum, but we haven't won," he said on the stump. "We still have to go out and finish the sale."

But Gingrich's gain is Santorum's pain - costing the former Pennsylvania senator crucial delegates as he tries to edge Romney for the nomination.

Noting voter dissatisfaction, as reflected in recent polls, with President Obama and the slate of GOP presidential hopefuls, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer asks, "What if the gave an election and nobody won?" To see his discussion with "CBS This Morning" co-hosts Charlie Rose and Erica Hill, click on the video below:

Monday, Santorum suggested Gingrich was on a fool's errand that would result in a Romney victory. "Whether he pulls it out or not (in Alabama and Mississippi)," Santorum said, "where does he go from here? We go next to Illinois. And he's sitting at 10 percent in the state of Illinois. We're at 31 (percent), and Romney's at 34 (percent) or something like that."

With nearly half the states having already voted, Santorum said Gingrich needs to face the fact that he can't win. "Other than the state of Georgia," Santorum pointed out, "he hasn't finished above third in two months. ... Newt's run in three states, really. This is his fourth and fifth state that he's actually tried to compete in, because he hasn't been able to compete anywhere else -- because he can't."

But Gingrich, who is appealing to Southern voters by stressing his Southern ties, said he's the only candidate who can beat President Obama. "We stayed in (the race) for two reasons," Gingrich says. "I do not believe the other two candidates can beat Obama, and I believe this race is the most important in our lifetime, and I will not leave the field."

With his two main rivals slugging it out, Romney seems to have a clear path forward, yet still makes unforced errors that paint him as rich and out of touch. He did it again when he said the owners of the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are "friends of mine."

Romney's already left the South. He's campaigning today in Missouri. Both he and Ron Paul skipped a presidential forum that was held Monday night here in Birmingham. That left the stage to Santorum and Gingrich. They both had their supporters in the crowd. But like the voters in this state overall, they very pretty evenly divided.

To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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