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GOP candidates vie for backing of SC military vets
GOP candidates cater to South Carolina's big veterans bloc as primary race hits home stretch
By The Associated Press

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. (AP) ' Texans Rick Perry and Ron Paul are the only GOP candidates in the field with a military background. But all the contenders are beating the military drum these days in South Carolina.

And for good reason: South Carolina is home to 413,000 veterans and eight military bases with thousands on active duty.

GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has decorated veteran and 2008 presidential candidate John McCain vouching for him. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum highlights his time on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich frequently calls himself an "Army brat" and mentions how he grew up on military bases.

Compared with other recent elections, debate over U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts has remained mostly on the periphery as the economy holds the attention of voters.

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