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South Carolina Debate Focuses on Bush and Iraq
By Stephan Carney, 10, South Carolina
Scholastic Student Reporter


The candidates are campaigning hard in the Southern state before the primary on February 3. Scholastic Student Reporters Crystal McRae and Kristen Toliver talk to John Kerry at Russell Hall on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo: Steven Ehrenberg)
Thursday, January 29—More than 2,000 people turned out tonight to hear the presidential candidates debate. The debate was held at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, five days before the South Carolina primary election set for Tuesday, February 3.

Groups of supporters gathered outside the center before the debate started, such as the folks on the John Edwards bus, the Firefighters for Kerry, and the people holding lights spelling out CLARK! Each of the seven candidates had something to say. The candidates were Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, and Al Sharpton.

Each candidate spoke on many different issues, but most of them talked about President George W. Bush's record in office.

"Bush did not keep his promises to America," said Al Sharpton. John Edwards added, "Bush only concentrates on national security." Edwards said Bush needs to focus on both security and other issues. "He has to learn to walk and chew chewing gum at the same time," he said.

After the candidates finished talking about Bush, they talked about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden. "Why are we in Iraq?" asked former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. "When are we going after Osama bin Laden?"

After Dean was done, Edwards pointed out that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. When everyone was finished discussing Saddam Hussein and Iraq, they started talking about domestic issues, such as jobs, health care, and separation of church and state. They discussed issues relevant to South Carolina, such as the public display of the Confederate flag.

Throughout the debate, whenever someone else was talking, Howard Dean put his hands in his pockets and looked straight ahead. Kerry turned his whole body to face whoever was speaking. Al Sharpton appeared to be the most enthusiastic whenever he spoke, and received the biggest cheer when he said that South Carolina should celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

The debate lasted for 90 minutes; then, with some music and applause, the debate ended.