01/21/2012 10:09 am ET

Mitt Romney Admits He Expects To Lose 'Some Primaries' To Newt Gingrich

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Mitt Romney is heading into primary day conceding that he'll win some and lose some.

Romney on Friday acknowledged the contest here is "neck-and-neck" and said he expects to lose "some primaries" to rival Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker.

He also conceded that he faced an "uphill battle" in the state, since Gingrich is from Georgia.

Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu dialed back expectations Friday too:

"I think you're going to see the same kind of long slog that you saw in '76, with [Gerald] Ford and [Ronald] Reagan, that it took the whole thing to win," Sununu told reporters.

"This is a long slog," Sununu said. "[Romney]'s never suggested one or two or three primaries or caucuses would make the difference. The whole campaign has been designed to go through the long slog."

Asked what Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, will need to do if Gingrich beats him in South Carolina, Sununu responded, "He has to do what they intended to do from the beginning: slog along."

The past week has been an abrupt reversal of fortune for the former Massachusetts governor, who landed here last Wednesday after a big victory in New Hampshire and what was then a narrow win in Iowa.

But this week the Iowa GOP reversed his win there after problems with the vote count, and he's been dogged by questions about releasing his tax returns. And instead of emerging from South Carolina with three wins and a seeming lock on the GOP nomination, Romney and his team are now acknowledging they could lose here. That would leave the putative front-runner with just one early state win heading into Florida's Jan. 31 primary.

Romney's campaign planned at least two campaign stops Saturday ahead of polls closing. He planned to visit his campaign headquarters and Tommy's Country Ham House, where Gingrich also planned to stop. Romney was to end the day in Columbia, the state capital.