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How each candidate fared


Highlight: Barrett was prepared to answer questions about his much-criticized 2008 vote in Congress to back the Bush administration's bid to bail out banks. He explained how dire economic conditions were at the time and said the bailout has helped stabilize the economy.

Do-over moment: Barrett had perhaps the biggest deer-in-the-headlights moment of the night when he was asked if the state should sit down with the NAACP to negotiate ending its economic boycott of South Carolina over the Confederate flag's position on the State House grounds. Barrett, when asked for a "yes" or "no" answer by the moderator, said he thinks the state should sit down with the NAACP. But later Barrett said he supports the flag's current location.



Highlight: Bauer's biggest highlight opened the debate when he was asked about his offer to sit out the 2010 race if Gov. Mark Sanford resigned. Bauer made clear his intention was to make sure he wasn't going to be an impediment to Gov. Sanford leaving office.

Do-over moment: Early on, Bauer was guilty of speeding. When asked about his economic development priorities, he furiously ticked off a list of economic development trips he has taken recently. But he spoke too fast to easily discern how those trips were helpful.



Highlight: Grooms' knowledge of how the state funds education and the problems therein stood out among the candidates. Grooms explained how the strings attached to state and federal education funding - 64 streams of funding - present disincentives for districts to consolidate.

Do-over moment: Grooms may have overplayed his hand when he suggested business regulation in S.C. is so laborious and permitting is so cumbersome that jobs that would be created here go to North Carolina and Georgia. It may be bad, but is it really that bad?



Highlight: One of Haley's best moments was when she got personal. Haley talked about how in Bamberg County - where Haley was raised - discipline was the biggest priority in schools. She compared that to her Lexington County school district, where "every school is like a private school." Her point: Not all schools are created equal, which No Child Left Behind fails to recognize.

Do-over moment: Haley complained the S.C. Education Lottery spends $7 million on advertising to get people to play the games. Perhaps Haley, a fiscal conservative, forgot bigger lottery revenues mean fewer dollars taken from the state's general fund to pay for merit-based scholarships.



Highlight: McMaster went out of his way to say how he would have no problem working with the Legislature even though he has never served there. The answer was an obvious effort to distinguish himself from Sanford, who has constantly fought with lawmakers.

Do-over moment: McMaster's dig at S.C. students' comparatively low SAT scores. He said most S.C. students don't have to worry about going to college because of low SAT scores. The quip drew a few chuckles, but it might not win him many friends among teachers.

- Leroy Chapman Jr.

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