One day after winning a convincing victory in Michigan, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pledged to give Sen. John McCain of Arizona "a run for his money" in seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
"I'm not making predictions about what's going to happen in every other state, but I'm feeling pretty darn good at this point," Romney said on NBC's "Today Show." Predicting that McCain will win Saturday's GOP primary in South Carolina, Romney said he hopes to do well in Nevada, which also caucuses Saturday.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Sen. John McCain won the South Carolina GOP primary in 2000.
"It would be nice to bask in front-runner light, but I must admit I think it's a pretty close contest," he said this morning on "Fox and Friends." "I think Sen. McCain is expected to win South Carolina pretty handily, and so that will give him a nice little boost. Then I'm hoping to do well in Nevada, maybe win there -- that will give me another boost. And then off to Florida, and who knows what the heck is going to happen in Florida."
Taking a dig at former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, once considered the front-runner in the race and now staking his campaign on a win in the Florida primary Jan. 29, Romney added, "I think it's been so much different than anyone had expected. This looked like a two-person race between me and Rudy Giuliani, and so far Rudy Giuliani really hasn't been able to get out of single digits I think in any one of the states, and that obviously can't speak very well about the ability his campaign has had to connect outside of, if you will, Florida and New York."
With the Republican race searching for a consensus choice -- Romney won in Michigan, McCain in New Hampshire and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Iowa -- candidates raced toward South Carolina, the first GOP primary in the South, which McCain lost in 2000. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson acknowledged that he has to post a respectable showing in South Carolina to stay in the race.
"There's no question we've got to do very well here," said Thompson, who has finished poorly in the other states. "Different people are winning these different major contests and I think a different person will win Saturday in South Carolina. No one has settled in on anyone." It's almost as if, he told CNN, "everyone gets to be hero of the day."
During a radio town hall event in Laurens, S.C., Thompson said federal spending on programs such as Medicare and welfare dooms the United States to the same course that flattened the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
"We're spending ourselves into oblivion," he said. "It cannot be sustained."
Meanwhile, the three top Democratic contenders campaigned in Nevada, where powerful unions have endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. After a week spent locked in a racially charged squabble, the Democrats struck a conciliatory note Tuesday night in a debate from Las Vegas.