Jan 20 - Republican presidential candidates tore into each other in a raucous debate two days before the South Carolina primary. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
It was a raucous debate. Republican candidates, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul tore into each other, two days away from the South Carolina primary. Gingrich took offense at a question about his previous marriage. (SOUNDBITE) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEWT GINGRICH SAYING(English): "I think the disruptive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that." This week his ex-wife accused him of asking her for an 'open marriage', when he was having an affair. Something he denies. (SOUNDBITE) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEWT GINGRICH SAYING(English): "Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Polls have shown the race is tightening between front runner Mitt Romney and Gingrich. Romney was pressed again on releasing his tax accounts. (SOUNDBITE) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEWT GINGRICH SAYING(English): "An hour ago." (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY SAYING: "When they're completed this year in April, I'll release my returns in April and probably for other years as well." (SOUNDBITE) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RICK SANTORUM SAYING(English): "I don't think it's a big deal. I mean, Governor Romney's told what his tax rate is. Mine's higher than that, I can assure you, but I can't tell you what it was. All I know is that it was very painful writing the check last April, that's all I can tell you." In a cigar bar in Charleston, South Carolina, people have gathered over the years to debate political issues. Today was no different. (SOUNDBITE)PHIL LEE, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE OFFICER, TENDS TO DEMOCRAT BUT SAYS AN OPEN VOTER, SAYING (English): "I think Romney has the best chance to go against Obama, I think Paul has the best ideas, I think Santorum is really a dark horse but he could pull it out and Newt needs to go one." Some felt the candidates were not offering any real solutions to America's problems. (SOUNDBITE) BILL BENTON, FROM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ECONOMIST, IDENTIFIES HIMSELF AS PROBABLY A DEMOCRAT, SAYING(English): "I think they are doing a fairly good job distinguishing themselves from one another which is good now that the race is has down to four people there are clearer choices however I find it, I find it devoid of any real tangible ideas about how to create jobs." The pressure is rising for the candidates. Keeping in mind that every winner of the South Carolina republican presidential primary since 1980, has gone on to win the party nomination. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters