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About the five debaters

GRESHAM BARRETT

Age: 48

Residence: Westminster

Occupation: Small businessman, congressman

Education: Bachelor's degree, The Citadel

Political experience: Elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District, 2002; served in S.C. House, 1997-2002

Status: Declared

Question he wants to answer: Jobs and Sanford. Barrett has staked out a well-defined position on Gov. Mark Sanford, calling for his resignation. Likewise, Barrett has spent a lot of time and energy on economic development, including what a governor needs to do to bring jobs to S.C.

Question he might want to avoid: Barrett is going to be asked about changing his vote on the federal bank bailout, eventually voting in favor of loaning money to struggling banks. He has handled the question before - and will again - but a poor answer, especially if pressed, will not do him any favors.

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ANDRE BAUER

Age: 40

Residence: Columbia

Occupation: Real estate investor, lieutenant governor

Education: Bachelor's degree, USC

Political experience: Elected lieutenant governor, 2002; re-elected, 2006; previously, S.C. House, 1997-99, and S.C. Senate, 1999-2002

Status: Undeclared

Question he wants to answer: What government does well. Bauer wants to talk about the Office on Aging that he oversees and the service that office provides to the state's elderly.

Question he might want to avoid: If voters trust him. The Sanford saga has shown that some state voters have a low opinion of Bauer. It will be tough for Bauer to change any minds at this point, but this is another chance to shed the "immature" tag and prove he is fit for promotion.

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LARRY GROOMS

Age: 45

Residence: Bonneau

Occupation: President/CEO of GTI, state senator

Education: Bachelor's degree, Clemson University

Status: Declared

Question he wants to answer: Just about any question that gives him more air time. Grooms, little known outside his Berkeley County district, needs any chance he can get to introduce himself to state voters.

Question he might want to avoid: How he expects to compete in this race. Grooms has had little success raising money, unlike his four debate opponents.

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NIKKI HALEY

Age: 37

Residence: Lexington

Occupation: Health care executive, state representative

Education: Bachelor's degree, Clemson University

Status: Declared

Question she wants to answer: How she would bring more accountability to Columbia. Haley has owned this issue, pushing for on-the-record voting and tougher review of state spending and programs. Haley will need to expand on her economic development plans, but the debate gives her a chance to move in on Barrett and McMaster's territory.

Question she might want to avoid: The Sanford connection. Haley has downplayed the influence of the embattled governor on her campaign, but Sanford's fundraising muscle could be crucial to her candidacy. Still, the more she has to talk about Sanford - for better or worse - the more voters connect her with him.

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HENRY MCMASTER

Age: 62

Residence: Columbia

Occupation: Lawyer, attorney general

Education: Bachelor's and law degrees, USC

Political experience: Elected S.C. attorney general, 2006

Status: Declared

Question he wants to answer: Jobs and experience. McMaster wants to emphasize his long career in state politics, and reassure voters that they know and can trust him. Part of that is talking in depth about how to help S.C. companies hire workers again. Another strong issue is the ongoing court fight between N.C. and S.C. over Catawba River use.

Question he might want to avoid: Craigslist and Kenneth Hinson. McMaster tried to pressure Craigslist to remove prostitution ads, but the classifieds Web site fought back, noting McMaster was not prosecuting local Web sites with similar ads. Hinson was acquitted by a state jury of kidnapping two 17-year-olds and holding them in an underground dungeon. McMaster's office had taken over the prosecution from the local solicitor.

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