COLUMBIA, S.C. — With the race here seemingly between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Republican rival Rick Santorum is bracing for a setback and looking ahead to the next contest: Florida.
Santorum planned to visit polling locations in South Carolina and attend an evening rally in Charleston on Saturday before his campaign moved South. Santorum's advisers said he would have no reason to exit the four-man race for the GOP nomination after voting ends and those allies note he went into primary day the top vote-getter in Iowa's leadoff caucuses and besting Gingrich in New Hampshire.
Romney and Gingrich were battling for the top spot in South Carolina and Santorum was looking to post an acceptable showing. During campaign stops on Friday, he cast himself as a Goldilocks candidate: just right when compared to Gingrich's "too hot" rhetoric and Romney's "too cold" personality.
Santorum also looked to disqualify the fourth candidate in the race, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Santorum said there were three candidates who could capture the GOP nomination and cast libertarian favorite Paul as a gadfly annoyance.
As voting opened, Santorum planned to stop by polling locations in Chapin and Greenville. He also planned an election night party at The Citadel in Charleston.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.