GOP Race Tightens in South Carolina

South Carolina was host over the weekend to a political forum sponsored by Citizens United. The usual suspects among the GOP nomination contest were on display there, the third among the first-in-the-nation primary states.

At least eight of the recently-announced or soon-to-be-declared candidates tried to distinguish themselves from the rest on the ostensibly conservative crowd. Each had their unique pitch as well. Walker reminded the crowd of his repeated victories in Wisconsin, a state not won by a GOP presidential candidate since Reagan: “The last time a Republican carried the state for president was 1984,” he said. “That’s a tough state.” Carly Fiorina blasted an unaccomplished record as Secretary of State and contrasted it to her own corporate executive experience.

Ted Cruz acknowledged the crowded conservative field and told the crowd to let the candidates be “judged by the fruits” of their conservatism, Real Clear Politics reports. This early in the primary, however, most candidates were content vying for the most outstanding criticism of the Obama administration and the negative prospects of a Hillary administration.

Conspicuously absent were Jeb Bush, who was wooing evangelicals in his commencement address to Liberty University, and Sen. Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, who had already visited the state ahead of time.

The most recent poll for the GOP primary candidates in South Carolina was released a full month ago by Winthrop. This was long before at least half of the declared candidates announced, and previous to the shift in polls elsewhere.

In the Winthrop poll, Walker led Bush by a single point followed by South Carolina’s favorite son, Sen. Lindsey Graham in single digits. But analysts expect those numbers are already obsolete and Rubio, Cruz and Paul will have gained important ground in the next poll.