Sparks fly as GOP candidates campaign in S.C.

The GOP candidates are on the campaign trail in South Carolina, a state that has been the setting of previous negative attacks among presidential hopefuls. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker in South Carolina explains how the other candidates propose to stop frontrunner Mitt Romney.

The candidates just hit the ground in South Carolina and already the first salvo of negative ads has been launched. A political action committee supporting former Speaker Newt Gingrich opened fire on frontrunner Mitt Romney.

It posted a film on the Internet, labeling Romney a corporate raider who shut factories and sent jobs overseas as head of Bain Capital from 1984 to 1999. Bain is one of the most profitable private equity investment firms in the country.

"That hurt so bad to leave my home, because of one man that got 15 homes," said a woman featured in the ad.

"As his record is better known, I think that he will grow weaker and weaker very fast," said Gingrich.

While the negative advertising may rankle many Republicans across the country cry foul, party members here simply say, 'Welcome to South Carolina.'

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"We are hot heads here, a little bit of redneck in us," said Wesley Donehue, a much-in-demand GOP consultant in Columbia, born and raised in the state. "We like the fight, we got thick skin."

Donehue earned a name for himself here with a website four years ago that skewered presidential hopeful Fred Thompson. He said this state toughens candidates up.

"They can expect to see any dirt or flaws that they may have come out. If you have dirt, it's coming out in South Carolina," said Donehue.

Whether it's true or not. In 2000, John McCain won New Hampshire, but lost South Carolina to George W. Bush. Anonymous groups bloodied and battered McCain with misleading phone calls to voters, and even planted rumors he had a black child out of wedlock.

But Donehue said McCain came back eight years later a stronger candidate.

"South Carolina is the wall. If you make it out of here you can go on," he said. "If you can't, this is the place that is gong to kill you."

The state GOP said the candidates and their supporters could spend $20 million on political ads this year -- many of them negative.

  • Bill Whitaker

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