Undecided Voters Hear from Candidates

Fox News event in downtown Charleston hosts five of six candidates to help undecided voters make up their minds.

CHARLESTON — Not everyone leaving Saturday's undecided voters candidate forum left definitely decided. 

Rep. Tim Scott and Fox News host Mike Huckabee hosted five of the six GOP presidential hopefuls at the College of Charleston's Sottile Theater. The event featured a non-combative format, where candidates fielded questions from the audience and weren't allowed to engage with each other.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul did not accept the invitation to event.

Scott said between 11 and 16 percent of S.C. Republicans are still undecided and half those who have decided are willing to change their vote. With just a week before the Palmetto State's primary, Scott hoped the forum would give better information to undecided voters — including himself.

Closed to media and only taking attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis, hundreds ended up being turned away before the event began. 

Henry and Lynn Fralix of Charleston were among those not able to get into the event. Henry Fralix described not getting in as "disappointing," but added that he would watch the later airing at 8 p.m. on Fox News.

Right now, he's leaning toward former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, but like many undecided voters wanted to pick the candidate that's going to bring the economy back. 

Tommy Smith of Mount Pleasant was among those able to attend the forum, but he hadn't made up his mind when he exited the Sottile Theater. 

"It certainly will help," Smith said. "I'd still like to hear more."

He likes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania legislator Rick Santorum. 

Another undecided voter Justin Dearing said Perry impressed him more in person than he had in the debates and in videos he's seen of the candidate.

"I just don't think he's ready for President of the United States yet," Dearing said. 

Dearing said he likes several of Perry's proposals, including the flat tax plan and his promise to bring jobs back to the United States, but he also likes positions of many of the other candidates as well. However he's not overly thrilled with any of them.

"That's the problem there is no overarching candidate that makes you want to go out and vote for them," he said.

But some found the forum helpful in making their voting decision.

Steve Parsons of James Island came to the forum leaning toward Santorum and Perry. He left leaning toward just Santorum. Describing himself as a "values voter," Parsons said Santorum was the better speaker and better able to compete with incumbent President Barack Obama in the general election. 

Abby Brooks, who will be voting in her first election this year, and Ronda Gooch have been all over South Carolina following the candidates. The Charlotte women said the Fox News event helped them make up their minds to support former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"He has the experience and he knows his history and can back up his plans because of his experience," Brooks said.

Gooch echoed support for Gingrich based on his experience.

"Newt is experienced and no nonsense," Gooch said.

No word on whether or not one of the state's most famous undecided voters Congressman Scott made up his mind at the forum. 

Much has been made of Scott's endorsement, which he has said may or may not be coming. 

"I hope what it says about the field is that it is so exciting," Scott told reporters prior to the forum. 

Scott said he would make a decision on who to vote in the next few days, but he hasn't decided if that will be followed by a public announcement. Scott said his decision will be a "matrix" of four factors: character, competency, sharing values and faith. 

Scott's endorsement has been highly sought after. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Scott received a text from fellow Congressman Billy Long, who just endorsed Mitt Romney. 

"I've learned that almost all the candidates (and supporters) can text," Scott said. 

Scott said he's been disappointed with the debates and other forums where the candidates haven't been focused on key, important issues surrounding the economy. He said the focus has been on social values or some past statement, instead of on issues that really matter. 

stanley seigler January 16, 2012 at 04:24 AM
@cwv do you want to discuss diffs in GOP and DEM policies and provide refs to support yo opines...then i will be happy to respond... otherwise it is waste of yo and my time to discuss cherry picked, BO hater, party line, opines/comments (aka bs)... the issues are the GOP no reg free market policies (which caused 1929 depression and 2008 recession) v. DEMs progressive, safety net, policies for the least...not BO's t'day's message...which is a distraction.
stanley seigler January 16, 2012 at 04:59 AM
@cwv: "... the NLRB for example." "This is the outcome we have always preferred, and one that is typical for our agency,” NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said in a statement announcing the withdrawn charges. “I am pleased that the collective bargaining process has succeeded and that the parties have begun a promising new chapter in their relationship"
Tonto January 16, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Sounds pretty desperate Stanley :)
Tonto January 16, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Oh, and Stanley, I'm glad the dems didn't drive Boeing to set up shop in China :)
Cold War Vet January 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM
@Stanley: Fathom the hypocrisy of a Government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured... but not everyone must prove they are a citizen.


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