(CNN) - Political heavyweight and Republican Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Monday that if the election were held today, GOP presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich would win the Palmetto State.
"We'd love to see Mitt Romney spend more time in South Carolina, but I believe today if we were to hold the election, those are the two guys that would be at the top of the ticket and Newt would win," Scott said in an interview with CNN's "John King, USA."
The first-term congressman, a tea party favorite, has yet to endorse a candidate but has hosted a series of town halls for the presidential hopefuls stopping in South Carolina. Gingrich was in town Monday night to attend one of the events.
The former House Speaker took heat from the right last week when he said his approach to immigration would be "humane," arguing that longtime illegal immigrants who are well-assimilated into society should be considered for legal status.
Scott said he disagreed with that position but conceded voters in the state weren't looking for "the perfect candidate."
"We are simply a very strong anti-illegal immigration state. We will stay that way," Scott said. "You don't have to find the perfect candidate, however. What we need is someone who can beat President Obama and someone who makes sense."