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In US Race, All Eyes on South Carolina

Mitt Romney greets supporters at his primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire

Mitt Romney greets supporters at his primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

The race for the Republican presidential nomination moved this week to the southeastern United States. Florida, the state with the fourth largest population, will hold its Republican primary election on January thirty-first. But first comes the South Carolina primary next Saturday.

The results could show whether anyone has a serious chance to keep Mitt Romney from becoming the Republican candidate for president. Mr. Romney is the first Republican in more than thirty years to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in a competitive race.

On Tuesday, he won nearly forty percent of the vote in New Hampshire. He owns a house there and was the governor of a neighboring state, Massachusetts. In his victory speech, he called on South Carolina voters to help make him the candidate to defeat President Obama.

MITT ROMNEY: "And tonight, we're asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make two thousand twelve the year he runs out of time."

Mr. Romney has the support of South Carolina's governor, Nikki Haley. She is a favorite among supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished second in New Hampshire. That state's official motto is "Live free or die." He won support with his strong belief in individual freedoms and a pullback of American troops from around the world.

RON PAUL: "We've had enough of sending our kids and our money around the world, to be the policeman of the world. It's time to bring them home."

Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, finished third.

JON HUNTSMAN: "I'd say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman!"

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum each got just under ten percent of the vote. Mr. Santorum calls himself the "true conservative." He finished eight votes behind Mr. Romney last week in Iowa.

Texas Governor Rick Perry gave little attention to New Hampshire, but has been spending a lot of time in South Carolina. Other candidates were also visiting that state even before the primary in New Hampshire.

Chris Gladieri is a political scientist at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. He explains why South Carolina is so important.

CHRIS GALDIERI: "To the extent that folks like Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman were focusing all their attention on really early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, that was time and money and effort that they weren't putting into South Carolina. So, everyone else who is not Romney is going to be playing catch-up."

Primary elections will continue across the country. The general election is in November.

At around the same time, the top leaders of China are all expected to retire following a Communist Party Congress. Political considerations could test the complex relationship between China and the United States in twenty-twelve.

China now has the world's second largest economy. Its trade policies and military spending have been issues of concern for the United States.

One test of the relationship could come from Taiwan’s presidential election on Saturday. China considers the island its territory and has threatened to use force if Taiwan declares independence. China held military exercises around the island before elections in nineteen ninety-six. To help defend Taiwan, President Bill Clinton sent two aircraft carriers to the area.

This time, the Chinese government has avoided public comments. Alexander Huang is a professor of strategy at Taiwan's Tamkang University. He thinks the United States and China are seeking to avoid tensions.

ALEXANDER HUANG: "Both China and the United States would like to see the continuity of stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait, because both China and the United States will have a very busy political agenda this year."

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. Listen Monday for more about the Republican presidential race on THIS IS AMERICA. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Stephanie Ho, William Ide and Carolyn Presutti