Economic woes could trump social issues in SC

PROSPERITY, S.C. (AP) -- For the first time this election season, the Republican presidential race is now playing out in a state with a dismal economy.

South Carolina's unemployment rate of 9.9 percent exceeds the national average of 8.5 percent. And it's a lot higher than the rates in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two voting states.

Manufacturing and construction job losses have hammered South Carolina. The state also has seen a sharp downturn in its $14 billion tourism industry and rising gas prices.

More than 18 percent of South Carolina's residents are living in poverty, compared with the national rate of just more than 15 percent.

So each Republicans candidate is trying to make the case that he offers best chance to beat President Barack Obama on the economy in the fall.

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