Surveys of South Carolina voters show former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich battling for first place in the state's presidential primary election Saturday. But third place is up for grabs with Representative Ron Paul of Texas mounting a surprising run against former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Tommy Adams and his friends came up from the neighboring state of Georgia for this political rally in Aiken, South Carolina, ahead of the first presidential primary in the southern United States.
But unlike many at this event sponsored by a conservative Republican group, Adams is not here because of Georgia native Newt Gingrich.
"I'm pretty much sold on Ron Paul," Adams said. "All of his policies and ideologies have stood the test of time and he's still preaching the same stuff. I really admire a guy like that to stand his ground."
Ron Paul is a military veteran and Adams says he admires his stance on military intervention.
“[It is] mostly the withdrawal of troops out of unnecessary and unwinnable wars," Adams added. "I'm a veteran myself and I feel that's very important, to stop Americans from dying for no reason.”
Paul was not at the rally, but his campaign volunteers were and they attracted plenty of Interest. Kelly Clark of South Carolina says she's new to politics.
“I've honestly never voted. This might be a first for me,” said Clark.
Andrew Harper, also from Gingrich's native Georgia, proudly wears a Ron Paul sticker.
“I love Ron Paul's stands on personal liberty and sound money in our government and also responsibility internationally to respect other peoples,” said Harper.
South Carolina resident Johnny Gardner says he supports Paul's stand against legal abortion.
“I'm voting for Ron Paul and I'm hoping it'll turn out to be a victory celebration,” Gardner said.
And, for voters in this state that was the first to secede from the Union at the dawn of the Civil War, there is another attraction.
“I believe the states are sovereign and that anything not penned in the Constitution, I believe the state has the right to do it, and Ron Paul respects states' rights,” Gardner added.
So, on the eve of this Republican primary, Congressman Ron Paul, 76, a medical doctor and the oldest candidate in the field, continues to build on this varied support base and fight for the presidential nomination.