Jan. 20 - Republicans appeal to South Carolina voters Friday, one day before the key primary that may decide the nomination race. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Republican presidential hopefuls fan out across South Carolina Friday, just one day before the primary that will decide whether Mitt Romney retains his front-runner status. Romney has struggled in the first campaign primary in the South, coming under pressure to release his tax returns and trying to convince conservative voters they should be comfortable with him despite a more moderate record. With polls showing Romney running neck and neck with Newt Gingrich, the former Massachusetts governor remains optimistic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MITT ROMNEY SAYING: "I think I said from the very beginning South Carolina is an uphill battle for a guy from Massachusetts. I knew that, we're battling hard. The fact is that right now it looks like it's neck-in-neck - that's a pretty good spot to be in. I'm pretty pleased and pretty proud of the success of our effort." Former senator Rick Santorum, recently declared the winner in Iowa, says there is noting inevitable about Romney becoming the republican nominee. (SOUNBITE) (English) RICK SANTORUM SAYING: "So this aura of inevitability that so many people have been wanting to paint - one person in particular - who's been wanting to paint that Mitt Romney is the candidate that is going to surge and walk his way into this, he is now no longer 2-0, he's 1-1." Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, fresh off a presidential debate where he attacked the media over stories of his marital misconduct, is underscoring his conservative credentials. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEWT GINGRICH SAYING: "Tomorrow's going to be a very, very important day. With your help and with the help of other good citizens across the state of South Carolina, we are going to take the first big step towards ensuring that a conservative is nominated for president of the United States." With polls showing Gingrich gaining on Romney, the former Massachusetts governor's attempt to launch a knockout blow in the nomination race by winning the conservative southern state on Saturday is now in doubt. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters