Poll: Newt Gingrich closes gap on Mitt Romney in S.C.

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 18 2012 3:45 p.m. MST

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich participate in the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.

Charles Dharapak, Pool, Associated Press

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» View our political blog, with live updates and analysis of the South Carolina primary.

Three days before South Carolinians head to the polls to vote in the Republican presidential primary, a new CNN/Time poll shows Newt Gingrich is closing the gap separating him from front-runner Mitt Romney.

The "poll indicates that 33 percent of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters say they are backing Romney, with 23 percent supporting Gingrich," Paul Steinhauser writes in a blog post for CNN Politics. "The former Massachusetts governor's 10-point advantage over the former House speaker is down from a 19-point lead two weeks ago. According to the survey, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is at 16 percent, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is at 13 percent, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry stands at 6 percent."

On the ground in South Carolina, Ewen MacAskill writes for British newspaper The Guardian that the new polling results are emboldening Gingrich to turn up the heat in his pursuit of Romney.

"Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is showing signs of nervousness that a serious challenge may be developing from Newt Gingrich on the back of his strong debate performance on Monday. Gingrich, amid hints that he may be enjoying a surge in support in South Carolina, maintained pressure on Romney over an issue that caused the former Massachusetts governor the most trouble in the debate, his tax payments."

Speaking of the tax returns Romney has vowed to disclose in April, Politico reports that on Wednesday one of Romney's biggest endorsements urged the candidate to release his tax returns as soon as possible.

"I would say to Gov. Romney that if you have tax returns to put out, you know, you should put them out sooner rather than later," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said during an appearance on NBC's Today Show. "Because it's always better in my view to have complete disclosure, especially when you're the front-runner."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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