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SOTU Sneak Peek
January 19th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

SOTU Sneak Peek

As the clock ticks down to the South Carolina Primary on Saturday, the Republican field continues to narrow after both Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman drop out of the race. The remaining candidates push their case to be the anti-Romney candidate, claiming they have the best chance to beat President Obama.

What a difference a week makes: A week ago people were predicting it could all be over after South Carolina, but that was several polls, two more candidates, a testy debate and a recount ago. Rick Perry drops out of the race, days after his appearance on State of the Union telling Candy his intention was to stay in the race through Florida. Today he says he sees ‘no viable path forward’ and instead throws his support behind Newt Gingrich as ‘a conservative visionary who can transform our country.” Jon Huntsman also ended his presidential bid this week, dropping out on Monday and throwing his support behind Mitt Romney.

Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched: Just a few days ago it seemed that South Carolina voters could give Mitt Romney a primary hat-trick, but after a recount in Iowa that leaves him 34 votes behind Santorum and Newt Gingrich gaining momentum in the SC polls he could go from a clean sweep to just one win in the early contests. Will the big showdown move on to Florida?

Newt Gingrich closes the gap in South Carolina: Gingrich’s campaign is gaining some ground on front-runner Romney in the lead up to the primary after a strong showing in Monday’s Fox debate and increased attacks on Mitt Romney’s record. Romney has seen his numbers slip, but still leads Gingrich by 10 points according to a new CNN poll. Does Gingrich have the momentum to overtake Romney by Saturday’s primary? The Perry endorsement doesn’t hurt.

Romney’s tax problem: It wasn’t the conversation on taxes Mitt Romney wanted to have. Romney has said he will release his tax returns in April, but with increased pressure from his GOP opponents to release them now and intensified scrutiny over his profits at Bain Capital Romney did say he is in the 15% tax bracket. He is also drawing criticism for dismissing nearly $375,000 in speaker’s fees as ‘not very much,’ but is more than most American’s earn in a year.

Palin’s non-endorsement endorsement: Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin implores South Carolina voters to keep the race going, "If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt and I would want this to continue.” She stopped short of actually endorsing Gingrich, as her husband Todd did, but says she wants the process to continue to better vet the candidates – vetting she doesn’t think President Obama got in 2008.

A Final Pitch: Don’t forget to tune in to tonight’s CNN Republican Presidential Debate at 8pm ET.  It is now a four way race and the debate will be the remaining candidates' final chance to make their pitch to South Carolina voters.  After a week of heated rhetoric on the trail and shifting poll numbers it is sure to be a contentious outing.

And a guest sneak peek: South Carolina’s tea party heavyweight Sen. Jim DeMint joins Candy to help breakdown the South Carolina primary results.

Much more to come, make sure to check back on Friday for our full Rundown and don’t forget to tune in Sunday at 9am & Noon ET.

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Filed under: 2012 • Behind the scenes • Sneak Peek • State of the Union
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