2008 Republican primary candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee hosted an event in South Carolina Saturday with this year's GOP candidates and 800 undecided Republican voters. While Huckabee did not shell out any endorsements, the crowd made it clear that they do not support one line of thinking from candidate Newt Gingrich.
"They were really angry," one Republican at the event told Jonathan Karl of ABC News. The attendee says that Gingrich was loudly booed when he criticized rival candidate Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. Karl writes:
"The booing came when Gingrich mentioned Romney’s name. I am told Gingrich was gently reprimanded by Huckabee who reminded him that the ground rules for the forum stipulated that the candidate were not allowed to attack each other."
POLITICO also notes that Gingrich paid the price of boos when not complying with the forum's rules:
"Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum all complied. The only one who didn’t: Newt Gingrich, who paid the price in boos as soon as he mentioned Romney’s name in an answer defending his critique of Bain Capital.
Citing a steel mill in Georgetown, S.C. that was closed under Bain’s leadership, Gingrich said, 'Capital wasn’t put at risk — capital was drained out of the economy. Governor Romney can go ahead and say we made 100,000 jobs —' before being interrupted by the crowd’s loud disapproval.
Gingrich tried to jump in, saying he was 'trying to answer this question. I believe that it’s fair to ask that the record be clear.'”
Gingrich pressed on, telling the audience he thought 'a question about a particular company is not the same as attacking capitalism.'”
Huckabee was joined Saturday with South Carolina freshman Rep. Tim Scott, who like Huckabee is yet to give an endorsement.
“My goal is really not to figure out Romney versus the anti-Romney, which is what’s shaping up,” Scott told CNN, before laying four specific qualities – character, competency, values and faith – that will ultimately shape his decision. “Those four qualities, I’m going to sit down and create a little matrix for myself and come to a decision in the next few days.”
POLITICO reports that Huckabee declared he “would be proud to stand up on the stage and gleefully support” any of the five candidates who came.
Saturday's event featured five of the candidates running in the January 21 South Carolina primary. Only Rep. Ron Paul did not participate, as he is spending the weekend at his home in Texas.
Given the forum rules against badmouthing each other, POLITICO reports that the event "was a tame affair defined largely by stump speeches and talking points about limited government, states’ rights and creating jobs."
The forum will be aired on Fox News Channel Saturday night.