Romney Underwhelms, Paul Surprises at Debate

Audience applauds all four candidates for doing well.

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — The night belonged to hard-hitting Newt Gingrich and underdog Rick Santorum during the last debate before the South Carolina primary, according to audience members leaving the event Thursday evening.

While all four candidates faired well, but many debate-goers said Gingrich and Santorum stole the show

And then there was Ron Paul who surprised a few people like Tricia Boccabello of Charleston. 

"I think Ron Paul did better than I expected him to," Boccabello said. "He actually came across as being pretty cogent."

Debbie Jones of Isle of Palms, a former supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's bid for president, also seemed swayed by Paul's debate performance.

"I'm surprised that I liked some of the things Dr. Ron Paul said," Jones said. "He seemed that he would take the country in the opposite direction."

She added that the other candidates seemed "middle of the road." She said she's currently undecided, but her vote will go to either Paul or Santorum. 

Jones decided against Gingrich due to a compilation video on Youtube. In the video, Jones said the former Speaker praised Franklin D. Roosevelt. And, she decided against Romney because he's "too slick and not conservative enough."

Santorum's performance was strong enough to woo a few voters in the audience.

"Santorum … he really did improve in this one," said Chase Limehouse of Charleston, son of state Rep. Chip Limehouse. "I could see that he was a stronger speaker. In this one, he really stepped it up."

Two people in the anybody-but-Mitt camp were Mike and Abby Russo of Charleston, both undecided voters.

"I think he did pretty well, but I don't care to vote for him," Mike Russo said. "I was happy with all of them. I think better of all of them after hearing them tonight. I don't necessarily think there was a winner."

Russo said Gingrich had the highlight of the night.

"I like the way Gingrich put (CNN moderator John) King down. The beginning of the debate was just the first example," Russo said.

Danny Hyler of Florence liked how Gingrich handled the recent negative press.

"Newt came out, and he stated some positions and he clarified some positions that had been muddled in the news," Hyler said. "He talks about his experience, and that's what makes me more comfortable giving him my vote."

Abe Jensen January 20, 2012 at 07:27 AM
"She said she's currently undecided, but her vote will go to either Paul or Santorum." odd... that lady better hit the internet again and quickly learn there is a fundamentally different ideology between Paul and Santorum. Santorum wants a theocracy, an admittedly mild form of it, but there non the less. Just listen to him on what he calls "radical individualism" which is actually just individualism. To Rick, individualism only works to the point of adhering to Ricks specific religious moral dogma.... that would be a mild theocracy.
Diane V. McLoughlin January 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM
The following ten-minute video was produced during the 2008 leadership race. The introduction begins with speeches once given by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. (I listen to it through headphones for best sound quality) - 'Ron Paul Incredible Video Twice Removed by YouTube' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH1FaLdABFM (campaign website for more information: ronpaul2012.com)
Raymond January 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM
How could you people Bo the golden rule? ? Do unto others as you would have done to you.....Ron Paul isn't a war hungry person therefore people Bo.....COMPLETELY SAD. Newt wanted to have DEATH PENALTY given to anyone with an oz of marijuana"!!! That's INSANE! If one of my kids ever got in trouble, Newt would simply have them shot or hung. What is this country coming to? Thank you Dr.Paul for being honest!
SFHarry January 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM
You may like my video about Newt's three marriages at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQSsMRe6BJE There are chickens in it. Everybody loves chickens! It also ends with a splash of Santorum!
Barbara Goldberg January 20, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Come on South Carolina and fellow Americans – could you please vote for a candidate that wants to put America and Americans first. Vote for the only candidate that wants to restore personal liberties, end foreign aid, reduce spending. All the others don’t even have a solid plan, get their donations from Goldman-Sachs, make money from Freddie Mack and Fannie May, Santorum was voted most corrupt senator and is not on the ballot in Virginia, Newt was basically kicked out as Speaker of the House and not on the ballot in Virginia, and Romney's largest contributors are from big banks like J.P. Morgan and he supported the bailouts. Only Ron Paul has a solid plan to cut government spending.


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