All four Republicans seeking South Carolina's top job appeared together in Charleston on Thursday evening, and each agreed the Port of Charleston is vital to the state's future.
That was the easy part, particularly since their audience consisted of about 100 members of the Propeller Club of Charleston, a group that represents the state's maritime shipping interests.
Forum moderator Robert New peppered the gubernatorial candidates with more than 30 questions, some of which produced genuine differences.
State Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, was the sole person to object to state money going to fund the Clemson Restoration Institute's work on the Hunley and to the Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head. She also was the sole candidate to agree with Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a bill that would allow police to search those on parole without a warrant.
Asked whether South Carolina should allow police to detain those suspected of being here illegally, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said the real problem is that too many in the state don't want to do the jobs that exist.
"We don't have a labor force that wants to do these jobs because we've made sitting on your duff more financially rewarding than doing these jobs," Bauer said to applause. "Laziness is not a disability. You can make that the headlines tomorrow. We've got to address these giveaway programs to able-bodied people who should be working and don't feel like doing it."
The biggest laugh came after all four said they wouldn't seek congressional earmarks, and then there was a silent pause when New asked if each would sign a letter of support for the State Port Authority's effort to seek money for dredging Charleston Harbor.
Bauer said he would need to think about it. Haley said she would work with the port, and S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and 3rd District Rep. Gresham Barrett said there were other ways to get the money than earmarks.
Asked if the governor should fly first class, McMaster said, "I think we ought to use common sense," and Barrett said, "Of course, it certainly depends on the trip. The governor is the chief executive officer of South Carolina."
Each agreed they would support a cigarette tax increase if it were part of a larger tax reform push, and all favored creating a state Department of Administration to replace the S.C. Budget and Control Board, though Bauer said it was unlikely to happen. All also said the Department of Education should be in the governor's cabinet and that Interstate 73 is needed.