Mitt Romney, who a week ago held a nearly 20 percentage point lead among South Carolina Republicans, this morning is lowering his expectations for today's primary in the Palmetto State. Just a few days ago, the former Massachusetts governor appeared to be on his way to wrapping up the Republican nomination with a projected win in South Carolina. But late Friday, amid signs that what had been a 15- to 20-point lead over Newt Gingrich was shrinking rapidly, Romney's campaign coordinators were casting the race more like a marathon that could go on for a few more months.
"I'm still hoping and planning to win here," Romney said. "I'm sure [former House Speaker Newt Gingrich] feels the same way I do, but we're going to go on for a long race and I think I've got the staying power and a message that I believe connects with people."
One survey released Friday by Clemson University showed Gringrich leading Romney 32 percent to 26 percent. Another poll, by American Research Group, showed the race in a virtual tie.