This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
We're waking up on a morning before a key Republican primary in South Carolina, and after a day when the field of Republican candidates went up, down, and up again. Rick Perry went down and bowed out of the race. Newt Gingrich rode a surge in the polls. And Rick Santorum went up, when it was revealed that he got the most votes in the Iowa caucuses, not Mitt Romney.
Dozens of televisions display a political advertisement with the image of GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich at a store in Urbandale, Iowa, on Dec. 27. Republican candidates and their superPACs have spent millions on television and radio ads.
Saturday is South Carolina's Republican presidential primary. It's also the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's famous Citizens United decision.
That's the case that allows corporations to explicitly support or attack specific candidates. The day will be marked with attack ads — and protests.
The Republican presidential race has covered just three states so far. And superPACs linked to candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have spent a total of $20 million. They're feeding voters a heavy diet of negativity.
Republican presidential candidates (from left) Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul participate in the GOP presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C., on Thursday.
The last Republican presidential debate before Saturday's South Carolina primary was expected to be lively. It didn't disappoint.
It was clear, even before the four remaining candidates met on the stage in Charleston, SC, that at least three of them would face some fairly high-stakes moments that could change the course of the contest. The question going into the debate was would they be able to master those moments?
Comedian Stephen Colbert appears before the Federal Election Commision in Washington, June 30, 2011. The FEC granted Colbert's request to form a political action committee.
Kinky Friedman trims the ivy growing as hair on a 6-foot bust of Gov. Rick Perry. In 2006, Friedman came in fourth in his bid to be governor of Texas, drawing in part on his fame as a country musician. He has also written several mystery novels.
To prove that he thought all campaigning was bunk, actor and satirist Will Rogers created a mock presidential campaign in 1928, running as the "bunkless candidate" of the Anti-Bunk Party. Here, he's seen with actress Anne Shirley.
In 1940, Gracie Allen, the female half of the comedy team Burns and Allen, announced her intention to run for president on the Surprise Party ticket. The party's mascot was a kangaroo; the slogan was "It's in the bag."
Dick Gregory, a social and political comedian, ran for president on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. Here, he clears his way before speaking in Norfolk's Liberty Park, on Oct. 18, 1968.
Comedian Pat Paulsen announces his candidacy to be president in Universal City, Calif., in 1996 — his eighth run for the slot. Paulsen's earliest bid for the presidency was announced in 1968 on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Credit Photo by Kevin Winter / Tonight Show/Getty Images for The Tonight Show
Roseanne Barr announces she is a candidate for president on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at the NBC Studios in 2011. Barr says she is the candidate of the Green Tea Party.
Credit AP / Comedy Central, Kristopher Long
Stephen Colbert's flirtation with running for president has evolved from the formation of a superPAC to an appeal to voters in the primary held in his home state of South Carolina. The comedian mounted a short-lived campaign very early in the 2008 race, as well.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is running for president. He's parodying the process — including, now, superPACS — in the same way he has parodied cable news. He's getting plenty of attention, but to really look into his political practical joke, I needed to go upstairs and find Peter Overby, NPR's man on campaign finance. I warned him it would seem like a dumb question, but I needed his help. What, exactly, is a superPAC?
Morocco's King Mohammed VI introduced reforms after protests began last February. But activists say the measures didn't go far enough and they are still taking to the streets. Here, the king is shown in his palace in Rabat on June 17.