With those stakes high in South Carolina, the political ads are getting more pointed.
As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, the candidates themselves are taking aim less at each other and more at the White House.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: The day before the South Carolina primary, the remaining Republican candidates are making their final TV pitches to voters. Here's part of what the Mitt Romney campaign bills as its closing argument.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. The four Republicans still running for president met last night for their last debate before the South Carolina primary. They sparred over health care, abortion and tax returns. The race in South Carolina is now a dead heat, with Mitt Romney's earlier lead wiped out by a late surge by Newt Gingrich.
Escorting a squadron of bombers, Andrew "Smokey" Salem (Ne-Yo) signals fellow pilots on the way into combat with German forces in the new film Red Tails, based on the experiences of the famed Tuskegee Airmen fighter group.
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays pipe-smoking, swaggering Maj. Emmanuel Stance in Red Tails.
It took George Lucas more than two decades to bring the movie Red Tails to the screen. It was all the way back in the late '80s that the man behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones fell under the spell of another story of adventure, this one with real-life heroes — the African-American fighter pilots of World War II.
As Mara just mentioned, the debate last night opened with a question about a claim made by Gingrich's ex-wife. Well, Marianne Gingrich gave her exclusive interview to ABC's "Nightline," putting the candidate's personal life in the spotlight once again. NPR's Tamara Keith has more.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: The interview was incredibly hyped, in part because Marianne Gingrich has been silent so far on her ex-husband's presidential candidacy. This was her first television interview since their 1999 divorce.
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.