U.S. Republican presidential candidates are continuing their quest to woo conservative voters with a barrage of attacks on President Barack Obama and the leading 2016 Democratic contender to replace him, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Nine declared or possible Republican candidates spoke Saturday at the Freedom Summit in the Southern state of South Carolina.
South Carolina is a staunch Republican state that will hold one of the early party nominating contests next year, a prelude to picking the Republican presidential nominee for the national election in November 2016.
One possible candidate, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, said Washington suffers from a dearth of leadership to deal with domestic and world crises. He said next year's election "will be one of those 'show me, don't tell me' elections where voters look past what you say to what you've done."
One announced Republican candidate, Senator Marco Rubio of the southern state of Florida, said the United States is "at a hinge moment in our nation's history, where we must decide whether we will embrace the future and confront its challenges or be left behind by history."
"It begins by accepting the mantle of global leadership, by understanding that we have to, because there is no other nation that can do it instead of us," Rubio said.
Unapologetic for approach
One possible contender, Senator Ted Cruz of the Southwestern state of Texas, accused other Republican candidates of not fighting hard enough for conservative principles.
Cruz touted his unapologetic approach as a lawmaker that has angered some party officials in Washington, including his 2013 efforts leading to a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days.
Former technology executive Carly Fiorina, another announced Republican candidate, aimed her attack at Clinton, saying she "is not trustworthy, and she does not have a record of accomplishment."
One leading Republican possibility, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, skipped the South Carolina gathering but wooed evangelical Christians in a graduation speech at Liberty University in the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia.
Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents, defended the role of Christians in government leadership, saying "it is not only untrue, but also a little ungrateful, to dismiss Christian faith as some obstacle to enlightened thought, some ancient, irrelevant creed wearing out its welcome in the modern world."