Despite the party’s urging candidates to ease off on attack rhetoric, Monday night’s presidential debate featured plenty of fireworks and barbed one-liners.
Mitt Romney leads in South Carolina polls since his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. All the other candidates attacked him —and each other— on everything from a felon’s right to vote to the damage being caused by super-PAC messages.
The audience of 3,500 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center was vocal as well, booing and at one point, giving Newt Gingrich a standing ovation.
FOX News moderator Brett Baier prepared the audience that the panel would ask questions that they had not asked before and in this debate, panelists continued to press candidates on the week’s hot-button issues. Panelist Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich to explain recent comments about black Americans:
AUDIO: Gingrich and Williams on poverty issues (4:19)
Other highlights of the debate:
AUDIO: Gingrich took aim at Gov. Romney’s lack of power over super-PAC support:
All candidates were asked about the negative ads they are running against each other.
AUDIO: Texas Congressman Ron Paul was not apologetic
AUDIO: Rick Santorum also aggressively questioned Gov. Romney on super-PAC ads
Gov. Haley, who has been campaigning with Mitt Romney says the attacks against her candidate are ridiculous.
AUDIO: On stage, Romney defended his record with Bain Capital, giving it a positive spin
For Rick Perry, this was a stronger showing than he has had in most of the previous debates. That was good news for 5th District Congressman Mick Mulvaney, who has stuck with Perry as his campaign struggled.
Perry took aim at Romney over his not releasing his income tax statement:
AUDIO: Perry says Republicans need to know their candidates (:45)
Romney capitulated on tax return question, for the first time in his campaign:
AUDIO: Romney promises to release records
“This was the Rick Perry that we expected to see when we got in the race. What he needs to do is to put the concerns about his electability to bed…and I think another performance like this tonight goes a long way in establishing that,” Mulvaney said after the debate.