S.C. Republicans plan presidential forum in conservative upstate
Texas Gov. Rick Perry campaigns in South Carolina.
January 11th, 2012
12:30 PM ET
3 years ago

S.C. Republicans plan presidential forum in conservative upstate

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - With the Republican presidential race now moving to South Carolina, party activists here are in the final stages of organizing a candidate forum to be held Friday evening in the conservative stronghold of Spartanburg County, CNN has learned.

The forum is being sponsored by the Greenville and Spartanburg County Republican parties, two of the largest county party organizations in the state.

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South Carolina Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan - two freshman House members who represent the area in Congress - will moderate the event, expected to draw at least 500 people to a high school gym in the town of Duncan.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have confirmed their participation, according to Spartanburg County GOP Chairwoman LaDonna Ryggs.

Organizers are still awaiting word from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The event will be broadcast on the conservative radio station WORD and is loosely styled after a forum hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint in September.

Candidates will be asked two questions each by Gowdy and Duncan, and will then have ten minutes to address the audience.

The Greenville-Spartanburg metro area is the population center of the heavily evangelical upstate, which delivered big margins to Mike Huckabee in the 2008 South Carolina primary.

About six in ten South Carolina Republicans call themselves "born again" or evangelical Christians.

Though the upstate is home to many Christian conservatives who may be skeptical of GOP frontrunner Romney given his evolving positions on social issues, the region is also a prominent business hub and host to several major companies, including Michelin and BMW.

That should be reason enough for Romney to participate in the forum, Ryggs told CNN.

"He can still play in the upstate if he would come here," she said. "I think right now the economy and jobs is probably the number one issue, and it's going to remain that way. Romney is a businessman and he is seen and being strong on the economy. If he made a play here, he can at least stand a chance."


Filed under: 2012 • Republicans • South Carolina
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Romney is going into the lion's den now and will be eaten alive. Recall those Time Magazine covers: "Why don't they like me?" & the "Do you like me now?" He's going to get his answer in a couple of weeks. Newt is going to destroy him in the south.

    January 11, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Ferret out the B.S.

    OMG not another Repub talk fest. Nothing new not even poking each other is new.

    January 11, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Ferret out the B.S.

    How Christian and conservative can you be? It seems to matter to someone.

    January 11, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Coonsaa

    Awesome article, but you kinda forgot about 2nd place finisher Ron Paul and if he will be attending. Media bias at it's worst.....

    January 11, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Newt is going to destroy him in the south
    =============================
    Which is why Romney is ahead in SC and Fl, right? Clueless as usual GROVER!

    January 11, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. cali girl

    Here it is SC. The people will speak their minds very well. Not sure who will be the 1,2,3 but I am pretty sure there will be no love for the 1970's Game Show Host Willard.

    January 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. Mind Games

    Dear Organizers of this event, I'll ask the obvious question. What about NH 2nd place winner Ron Paul? Can you say "Black Out"? You can keep trying that but you won't win. You just look scared and biased. The Republican Party must change. The people want Ron Paul - get used to it.

    January 11, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    I think Romney is a creep, but he's the perfect Rove candidate. No real core and is easily swayed. Easier for Karl to control... I don't think his big "wins" will hold as much sway in the south...

    January 11, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Plus, Newt's ego is a bit bruised by the Iowa attacks and a wounded salamander is a dangerous thing.

    January 11, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Josh

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have confirmed their participation, according to Spartanburg County GOP Chairwoman LaDonna Ryggs.

    Organizers are still awaiting word from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

    Umm.....leaving anyone out? This is getting real old.

    January 11, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Coonsaa wrote:

    Awesome article, but you kinda forgot about 2nd place finisher Ron Paul and if he will be attending. Media bias at it's worst.....
    ------------
    Ron Paul isn't exactly what you would call a Republican. He's a Libertarian. So, he's not invited.

    January 11, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Mind Games wrote:

    Dear Organizers of this event, I'll ask the obvious question. What about NH 2nd place winner Ron Paul? Can you say "Black Out"? You can keep trying that but you won't win.
    --------–
    What about Ron Paul? Obviously, you are just as confused as Dr. Paul. This is not an event sponsored by, or affiliated with, any media group, organization, company or corporation. This is not an event sponsored by the RNC, but I am sure that it has some for approval or whatever from them. This is event is sponsored by some SC Republicans. Libertarians are not on their guest list, just Republicans. Sorry for any confusion.

    January 11, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Larry L

    @Mind Games

    "The people want Ron Paul – get used to it."
    ----------------------------------------------------–
    If Republicans wanted Ron Paul he would place 1st. Ron Paul supporters need to stop whining. If the American people want an old anarchist who will dismantle our military, destroy our ability to protect from environmental pollution, wreck our national infrastructure, give Social Security and Medicare to Wall Street, and allow the poor to die from lack of healthcare they'll vote for Paul.

    January 11, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |