Between the lines: What the candidates had to say

April 24, 2010 

What the candidates for governor had to say, and to which voting group they were speaking, during Friday night's Republican gubernatorial debate.

Gresham Barrett

U.S. representative, Oconee

What he had to say: After an opening statement that assured voters of his faith, his belief in the right to bear arms and his patriotism, Barrett mostly stressed the state's need to grow its economy and create jobs. Another theme was the state's need for more fiscal responsibility across state and local government.

Barrett closed by stating his desire to create economic conditions "where the next job is across the street and not across the nation."

His target audience: Barrett is tailoring his message to Republicans most concerned about jobs and economy.

Andre Bauer

S.C. lieutenant governor

What he had to say: Bauer's early line - "Laziness is not a disability" - set the tone for his debate. Several times, Bauer talked about the need to change what he describes as a culture of dependency. Bauer described himself as being from a broken home and as someone who beat long odds. He closed by saying he wanted a state where "people who work hard live better than people who (do not)."

His target audience: Bauer is tapping into anxiety among some voters - expressed often in the Tea Party movement - about the growth of entitlement spending. He expressed regret back in March for his January comparison of children who receive free and reduced lunch to "stray animals." But Friday he delivered essentially the same message without the controversial comparison.

Nikki Haley

Lexington state representative

What she had to say: Haley repeatedly stressed the need for transparency and greater fiscal discipline. She painted herself as a reformer, touching on the General Assembly's failure to fund immigration enforcement and hold the line on college tuition. Haley, who has the least elective experience in the field, referenced "status quo politicians" a few times, an obvious bid to bill herself as more of an outsider to a failed system.

Her target audience: Reform-minded Republicans. Haley has heavily courted the Tea Party vote, and she did so again Friday.

Henry McMaster

S.C. attorney general

What he had to say: McMaster is displeased with the federal government. He spoke often about federal overreach, a power-hungry Congress and an Obama administration he thinks is sinking the country into bankruptcy. McMaster also talked about being the candidate with the most chief executive experience, saying several times that such leadership is what is needed to be a successful governor. He was implying it is lacking in the candidate field except for him.

His target audience: McMaster was selling his executive experience to traditional Republicans, but he is also tapping into the anti-Obama sentiment among Republican voters.

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