James Island -- It was a little nuance, but Rick Perry added a more targeted line to his stump speech during an appearance Friday at the Charleston Crab House.
The Texas governor made a specific shout-out to the tea party, saying that in addition to galvanizing a movement, they moved people to explore the roots of the federal government.
"There's been more people read the United States Constitution thanks to the tea party in the last three years than they had probably in the last 50 years," he told 75 people gathered at the James Island restaurant.
Campaign supporter Katon Dawson said the tea party angle wasn't totally new but had been something Perry had used more often in several of the smaller South Carolina towns he's visited this week.
During the session, Perry declined to weigh in on the use of medical marijuana, saying it is a state issue. The answer came in response to a question.
Friday was not the best of days for Perry. A federal judge in Virginia refused to add his name and those of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman onto Virginia's March 6 Republican presidential primary ballot.
U.S. District Judge John Gibney ruled Friday that the candidates should have challenged Virginia's primary qualifying rules earlier. Gibney said they knew the rules months ago. Only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul qualified.
Hilton head Island -- Romney brought an all-star cast to his Palmetto Dunes appearance. Gov. Nikki Haley, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton each took the microphone to tout his virtues.
Much of the discussion centered on foreign policy, and about 50 veterans, many wearing caps with military emblems, sat on stage facing the audience.
"Do you realize that we have fewer ships in our Navy than any time since 1917?" Romney asked. "And our Air Force, it is older and smaller than any time since its founding in 1947."
Romney said he thinks the world has become more dangerous, and shrinking the military would be a mistake.
"I'm absolutely convinced that the best deterrent against war is to have an American military so superior that no one would ever think of testing it," he said.
That said, Romney also hit key points from his domestic agenda. He discussed how the United States should be an "opportunity society" instead of an "entitlement society," and said President Barack Obama has failed to create jobs.
Haley told the crowd that Romney has pledged to repeal "Obamacare," stand by South Carolina's embattled voter ID law and defend right-to-work states against the National Labor Relations Board.
McCain brought down the house with jokes about his 2008 presidential bid, Zsa Zsa Gabor and how, as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, he used his plane to "intercept a surface to air missile."
He also joked that the Marine Corps is a department of the Navy: The men's department.
Hundreds of people attended, and organizers flung back the hall's doors so the crowd that spilled outside into the cold could still see.
ROCK HILL -- Santorum stepped up his criticism of Romney, calling him "bland and boring" and too much like voters' bosses to capture the GOP nomination.
While acknowledging that Romney is a strong businessman, Santorum told voters: "It doesn't necessarily mean that you want your boss running for president, right?"
He followed up in a fundraising email to supporters: "Republicans are again thinking about nominating another bland and boring candidate for president -- Mitt Romney."
Santorum, who finished eight votes behind Romney in the first contest in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, is hoping for a come-from- behind win in South Carolina's primary on Jan. 21.
He continued to criticize Romney's record, his proposals and even his talent as a salesman. At a town hall-style meeting, he cited Romney's 59-point economic plan and said: "It is impossible to communicate."
DUNCAN -- Gingrich is calling on an outside group that supports him to edit "inaccuracies" from a film it produced attacking Romney's tenure as a venture capitalist.
The move comes as Gingrich, as well as other candidates, face pressure from an array of Republicans and conservatives to scale back their criticism of Romney's business record before it undermines the party heading into a general election with President Barack Obama.
Gingrich said Friday that he would continue to raise questions about Romney's tenure as the head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and Romney's experience as Massachusetts governor.
But he said he wants Winning Our Future, a political action committee run by his allies, to cut inaccuracies from a 28-minute film it released this week assailing Romney's record at Bain. Shorter segments from the film, called "King of Bain," also are running on television in South Carolina ahead of the Jan. 21 primary.
Neither Paul nor Huntsman were campaigning in the state Friday.
The Associated Press and The Beaufort Gazette contributed to this report.
Conducted Jan. 11-12, with 600 telephone interviews among a sample of likely Republican primary voters living in South Carolina. Margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Based on Jan. 12 survey of 750 likely South Carolina Republican primary voters. Margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Public Policy Polling
Mitt Romney 29%
Newt Gingrich 24%
Ron Paul 15%
Rick Santorum 14%
Rick Perry 6%
Jon Huntsman 5%
Conducted Jan. 11-13 through automated telphone interviews and based on survey of 803 likely South Carolina Republican voters. Margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Planned candidate visits:
Newt Gingrich: Huckabee forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.; Jones Memorial AME Zion Church, Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
Rick Santorum: Tommy's Country Ham House, Greenville, 8:30 a.m.; Huckabee forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.; Santorum S.C. Headquarters, 311 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite 141, Mount Pleasant, 3:30 p.m.; Cathedral of Praise, North Charleston, 5 p.m.
Mitt Romney: Huckabee forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.; American Legion Post 15, Sumter, 4:30 p.m.
Rick Perry: Page's Okra Grill, Mount Pleasant, 9 a.m.; Huckabee forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.; Rice Museum, Georgetown, 3 p.m.
Ron Paul: Huckabee Forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.
Jon Huntsman: Huckabee forum at the Sottile Theatre, Charleston, 11:45 a.m.; Skull Creek Boathouse restaurant, Hilton Head, 5 p.m.
GINGRICH: Cathedral of Praise, 11 a.m., North Charleston; The Land's Inn restaurant, Georgetown, 3:30 p.m.
Santorum: Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 9:30 a.m.; Percy & Willies in Florence, 3 p.m.
Perry: Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 8:30 a.m.