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“When we go to this convention, if that’s where we end up, it’s a conservative party,” he said. “If an opportunity provides itself at an open convention, they are not going to nominate a moderate Massachusetts governor.”

Campaigning in Biloxi, Miss., later in the day, he also suggested, again, that it was time for Mr. Gingrich to exit the race. “People of Mississippi and Alabama want a conservative. If they want a conservative nominee for sure, they can do that by lining up behind us and making this race clearly a two-person race outside of the South,” he said, hours before appearing with Mr. Gingrich at a candidate’s forum hosted by the Alabama Republican Party in Birmingham.

Mr. Romney, meanwhile, swung through Mobile, Ala., with Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian who is known for his “You might be a redneck” jokes.

The front-running candidate poked fun at his past descriptions of his hunting prowess, saying he hoped to go hunting with an Alabama friend who “can actually show me which end of the rifle to point.”

His supporters tried to downplay expectations.

Romney is clearly the underdog in states like Mississippi and Alabama, but he is putting up quite a fight and has a chance to pull off the upset,” said Henry Barbour, Republican national committeeman for Mississippi and a supporter of Mr. Romney.

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.