Students attend GOP debate in Myrtle Beach

Sophomore journalism major Angie Lovelace, freshman broadcast major Nick Ochsner and Colin Donohue, coordinator of student media in the School of Communications, traveled Jan. 10, 2008, to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the GOP debate in a joint project between The Pendulum and Phoenix14News.

Sophomore journalism major Angie Lovelace, freshmanbroadcast major Nick Ochsner and Colin Donohue, coordinatorof student media in the School of Communications, traveledThursday to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the GOP debate in a jointproject between The Pendulum and Phoenix14News.

Candidates inattendance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center were formerMassachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, formerArkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson,former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. JohnMcCain.

Coming into Thursday’s debate, Huckabee, who hasalready claimed victory in the Iowa caucus, was ahead inSouth Carolina polls by about five percent. He was leadingMcCain, who won New Hampshire’s primary Jan. 8. Romney,seen as a GOP frontrunner entering election season, recentlypulled his ads in South Carolina to focus his attention onthe Michigan primary, which occurs Jan. 15.

Lovelace, photo editor at The Pendulum, and Ochsner, areporter for Phoenix14, also reported from a Huckabee rallyoutside the convention center and from spin alley after thedebate.

Lovelace was able to photograph the candidates fromthe convention floor toward the end of the debate and in spinalley when they were on the set of Fox News'”Hannity and Colmes.”

Ochsner participated ina post-debate impromptu interview session with Romney andspoke to several campaign leaders and politicians, includingSen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and former Virginia Gov. GeorgeAllen (with Ochsner on the right.)

The candidates covered a range of topics during the90-minute debate. The Republicans spoke at length aboutwhether the United States economy is in an intractablerecession because of the current administration’sinsistence on reducing taxes while also increasingspending.

“I think (tax cuts) stimulate the economy, but we haveto make these tax cuts permanent and give some certainty tofamilies,” McCain said. “I believe they stimulatethe economy, but you have to cut spending.”

Most candidates, though, all agreed that military spendingshould continue to be a major priority in order to maintainthe welfare of the United States and to continue to fightterrorism abroad. They cited the recent engagement betweenIranian speed boats and U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuzearlier this week as evidence that Iran and al-Qaeda arestill significant threats to the United States.

“They’re testing our resolve,” Thompsonsaid. “It’s some insight into the way thatthey’re thinking. They’re getting a little bitmore frisky.”

The Republicans also talked about how they are legitimateagents of change that can alter America’s course forthe better.

 “I’m convinced that you’re going to hearpeople say that if you send the same people back toWashington just to sit in different chairs, nothing willchange,” Romney said. “I know how to bringchange. I will take (Washington) apart and put it backtogether.”

South Carolina Republicans will vote in their state’sprimary Jan. 19. The debate, which was sponsored by Fox News,took place just two days after the New Hampshire primary andfive days before the Michigan primary. The Democrats willhold their debate in Myrtle Beach Jan. 21, and thestate’s Democrats will vote Jan. 26.