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Republicans head to South Carolina

01-12-2012 16:21 BJT

COLUMBIA - Republican US presidential contenders brought buckets of cash and sharp rhetoric to South Carolina on Wednesday for an intense 10-day battle that may determine whether anyone can stop front-runner Mitt Romney's march to the party's nomination.

A Romney victory in the January 21 South Carolina primary, the next in a series of state-by-state contests among the Republican candidates, could extinguish his rivals' hopes of keeping him from becoming the nominee to take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 general election.

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks
at a campaign rally in Columbia, South Carolina Jan 11, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

But a poll by the Augusta Chronicle showed Romney with 23 percent support, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 21 percent. The poll's 3.6 percent margin of error put them in a virtual tie.

A survey last week by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling had Romney ahead of Gingrich by 7 points.

Despite fierce attacks from his rivals, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, had captured New Hampshire's primary 16 percentage points ahead of the rest of the field on Tuesday to go two-for-two at the start of the Republican nomination race after his narrow victory in Iowa's caucuses a week earlier.

The New Hampshire victory felt "like Christmas Day," Romney told reporters as his plane left the state for South Carolina.

Romney's campaign added to the other contenders' worries by announcing he had raised $24 million in the last three months of 2011, just hours after his victory in New Hampshire. That haul will almost certainly far outstrip the war chests of any of the party's other presidential contenders.

Romney has led in polls in the southern state, but could face a tougher time convincing its many Christian conservatives and those hit hard by the economic downturn that he is their best bet to defeat Obama.

He finished toward the back of the pack in the state's primary in 2008, when Arizona Senator John McCain became the Republican nominee. "With regards to South Carolina, last time I came in fourth. Our team recognizes this is going to be a challenge," Romney said.

In his narrow win in Iowa, Romney's Mormon faith was a stumbling block for some evangelical Christians, who also make up a large percentage of the South Carolina electorate.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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