Jan. 12 - Republican presidential contenders step up their campaigns ahead of the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Republican presidential hopefuls campaigned across South Carolina Thursday as the intense battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination continues. Frontrunner Mitt Romney is hoping to keep momentum up after back to back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY SAYING: "This is a nation where our course forward should have as its blueprint the Constitution of the United States. That is the source of our strength. Follow the Constitution, follow the Declaration of Independence, make sure the principles of freedom and opportunity reign. If I'm President of the United States, those will be my principles, those will be my blueprints. I'll get America working again and strengthen this great country for ourselves and for our kids. Thanks, you guys. Love you. Thanks so much." A Romney victory in the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, could extinguish his rivals' hopes of keeping him from becoming the nominee to take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election. A poll by the Augusta Chronicle shows Romney with 23 percent support, followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 21 percent. Romney's rivals, including former Ambassador John Huntsman, are hoping to make a stand in South Carolina. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JON HUNTSMAN SAYING: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm running for President of the United States of America because I think it is totally unacceptable that we're about to hand down the greatest nation that ever was -- the United States of America -- to the next generation -- my kids, your kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors -- in a condition that is less good, more divided, more saddled with debt, less competitive, less productive than the country we got." Rick Santorum went after Romney at a campaign stop in Hilton Head. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RICK PERRY SAYING: "I want to ask you, between now and the 21st, to go do everything that you can. Talk to your friends, to anybody that's not going to be here or absentee votes, to get them in, to get their votes in to count. Because I want to make you this pledge: if you'll have my back on the 21st of January, I will have your back for four years in Washington, DC. God bless you and thank you for being here today." Since 1980, every winner of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary has gone on to win the party nomination. The state has gone for Republican candidates in 9 out of the last ten presidential elections. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.