COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In the crowd milling outside the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce's annual "Business Speaks" conference at a downtown hotel here on Tuesday, there were not many effusive declarations of support for Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney.
But from the perspective of the candidates chasing Romney -- most of whom addressed the meeting -- the chatter in the hallways conveyed something even more ominous: a sense of acceptance about the likelihood of his nomination, and little inclination to extend the race by denying him a victory in Saturday's pivotal South Carolina primary.
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