Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama questioned each others credibility during the opening minutes of a broadcast debate Monday night in South Carolina.
In the exchange, Obama said Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had misrepresented his record. Clinton defended her campaign's statements and accused Obama of changing his position on issues.
Former Senator John Edwards, questioned whether the bickering between the frontrunners would improve the lives of everyday citizens. Edwards said the campaign should be about what the candidates intend to do for the country.
On Iraq, each candidate vowed to remove U.S. troops from the country. Edwards said he would have all troops out of the country before the end of his first year in office. Clinton said she would work as quickly as possible to get them out. Obama said he wanted to be as careful withdrawing troops as President Bush was reckless sending them in.
South Carolina holds its Democratic Party primary on Saturday.
The Republican candidates have turned their attention to Florida, where their party holds its next primary on January 29.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani chose not to compete in some of the early statewide contests. Instead he focused on Florida, hoping to make an impression with his performance there.
The Republicans, with the exception of former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson sought out voters in various Florida cities. Thompson took the day off to visit his ailing mother.
The contenders from both parties are hoping to build momentum before the critical primaries and caucuses on so-called Super Tuesday - February 5 - when 22 states hold presidential nominating contests.