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Top GOP Candidates Come To SC For DeMint

The six Republicans polling highest in their quest to be president are in South Carolina this afternoon for a forum hosted by Senator Jim DeMint. The candidates are taking the stage one by one to answer questions from Senator Jim DeMint and two other conservative panelists. "It's my hope that this event will allow our candidates to show voters that they understand what defines American greatness and how we can move our country forward again," says DeMint in a video posted on the South Carolina Republican Party website. DeMint has become a kingmaker in conservative circles. His fundraising efforts in 2010 shepherded a crop of Tea Party-backed newcomers into the U.S. Senate. His endorsement in the Presidential race would carry significant weight among conservative voters, but DeMint says he's not ready to crown a candidate just yet. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney initially declined DeMint's invitation to today's forum citing a scheduling conflict. But last week - on the same day a poll came out showing him trailing Texas Governor Rick Perry by 20 points in South Carolina - Romney announced he'd rearranged his schedule and would come to the forum. Also at the event today are Tea Party darlings Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain, along with Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich. Others candidates in the race - including former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman - were not invited to participate today in what DeMint is calling the "Palmetto Freedom Forum."