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Romney Underwhelms, Paul Surprises

Audience applauds all four candidates for doing well.

NORTH CHARLESTON — The night belonged to hard-hitting Newt Gingrich and underdog Rick Santorum during the last debate before the South Carolina primary, according to audience members leaving the event Thursday evening.

While all four candidates faired well, many debate-goers said Gingrich and Santorum stole the show

And then there was Ron Paul who surprised a few people like Tricia Boccabello of Charleston. 

"I think Ron Paul did better than I expected him to," Boccabello said. "He actually came across as being pretty cogent."

Debbie Jones of Isle of Palms, a former supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's bid for president, also seemed swayed by Paul's debate performance.

"I'm surprised that I liked some of the things Dr. Ron Paul said," Jones said. "He seemed that he would take the country in the opposite direction."

She added that the other candidates seemed "middle of the road." She said she's currently undecided, but her vote will go to either Paul or Santorum. 

Jones decided against Gingrich due to a compilation video on Youtube. In the video, Jones said the former Speaker praised Franklin D. Roosevelt. And, she decided against Romney because he's "too slick and not conservative enough."

Santorum's performance was strong enough to woo a few voters in the audience.

"Santorum … he really did improve in this one," said Chase Limehouse of Charleston, son of state Rep. Chip Limehouse. "I could see that he was a stronger speaker. In this one, he really stepped it up."

Two people in the anybody-but-Mitt camp were Mike and Abby Russo of Charleston, both undecided voters.

"I think he did pretty well, but I don't care to vote for him," Mike Russo said. "I was happy with all of them. I think better of all of them after hearing them tonight. I don't necessarily think there was a winner."

Russo said Gingrich had the highlight of the night.

"I like the way Gingrich put (CNN moderator John) King down. The beginning of the debate was just the first example," Russo said.

Danny Hyler of Florence liked how Gingrich handled the recent negative press.

"Newt came out, and he stated some positions and he clarified some positions that had been muddled in the news," Hyler said. "He talks about his experience, and that's what makes me more comfortable giving him my vote."

stanley seigler January 20, 2012 at 09:50 PM
@LiveFree1776: "...see what a few experts who agree with Dr. Paul's foreign policy have to say" COMMENT good suggestion... what's sad/stupid is you dont need experts...just a little common (well not so common) sense...IKE warned us re the military industrial complex (MIC)...it has/is driving our foreign policy... why oh why didnt/havent we listened...dont listen. sure that MCI is driving policy is an oversimplification...but it is major factor...defense contractors have powerful lobbys and PR consultants.
Kaye Fox January 20, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Is't the real reason for the mess we are in is because of the do nothing congress. Throw the bums out. I'm all for term limits for congress AND the supreme court.
dan January 21, 2012 at 08:23 AM
The poster common sense is right on as is so many of the other Ron Paul supporters on the internet. Thank God for the internet and for alternative news outlets. I always laughed at conspiracy theorists but the concerted effort to black out Ron Paul and his supporters by the MSM is undeniable! The new York times and cnn are the worst. In the New York times they try to avoid even printing his name and over the last couple of weeks they will no longer publish a pro paul comment from a reader! Talk about disenfranchising voters and the youth! Something has to be done to expose this charade to americans who are not internet savvy or who get all their news from the MSM! I mean this is outrageous!
George Grace January 21, 2012 at 08:28 PM
SC evangelicals playing the race card is "substantial." Only a pure hypocrite would cite "reconciliation" to support Newt Gingrich's serial adultery - it's a sham. Obama's has to function in a political world and SvSC criticisms are valid. But I think if Obama gets 4 more years with a Demo Congress he'll come through on all the promises. Remember the Health Care bill all the Repub's criticise. There was a story on last night's news. A family in Columbia has a 3 year old boy with cancer. $500,000 in medical bills so far. If they had affordable health insurance, and Obama's bill prohibits an insurance company from turning down an existing pre-condition, and if the bill went into effect right away on passage instead of waiting for three years, that family would have had health insurance. As it is they are auctioning off his drawings for $. That could happen to any one of us. Maybe in Obama's second term we will get single payer health insurance, Medicare for all, voluntarily, to compete with the health insurance companies.
Ken Gagne January 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM
who cares about abortion -i dont one way or the other -also what does your sex life have to do with national defense ?------and most woman give head --so vote for a woman for president ---lol

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