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Mitt Romney loves a lot of things. One thing he loves more than most appears to be wading his way through the patriotic songs of the country (American anthems, if you will) and wowing audiences in the early primary states.

For the silver-flecked crooner, his most recent his is a cover of America The Beautiful. A cover that is adaptable depending on what state you are in, yes, but one that retains the same heartfelt passion throughout.

So, make your own mind up - is he more Tom Jones, or William Shatner?

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Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) didn’t back down on his promises to cut defense spending when asked about it at the Republican debate in South Carolina on Monday night. When a questioner asked Paul if he’s concerned about the effects on American jobs should those cuts come to pass, Paul said “I want to cut money, overseas money. That’s what I want to do….I would probably have more bases at home. We were closing them down in the 1990s and building them overseas. That’s how we got in trouble. We would save more money and have a stronger national defense and that’s what we should do.”

On stage at the penultimate South Carolina presidential primary debate Monday, Mitt Romney announced that he’ll likely release his tax returns in April. Republicans and Democrats have been attacking Romney over his tax returns nearly daily after he said he wasn’t planning to release them in a recent interview.

On the debate stage, he announced a change of heart. From a rush transcript:



 I think I’ve heard enough from folks saying, look, let’s see your tax records. I have nothing in them that suggests there’s any problem and I’m happy to do so. I sort of feel like we are showing a lot of exposure at this point. And if I become our nominee, and what’s happened in history is people have released them in about april of the coming year and that’s probably what I would do. 

The audience at the South Carolina GOP debate interrupted a question to Mitt Romney that referenced his family’s ties to Mexico with an audible boo from what sounded like several people as the question was asked.

Romney’s father was born in Mexico, where his parents were part of a Mormon enclave that had moved temporarily from the United States.

Maybe there’s something disconcerting about a southern governor standing in South Carolina and bellowing about “war” with the federal government, and maybe there isn’t.

Either way, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) brought up not one but two wars he says President Obama has declared on the people of the south since taking office. The first is a war on South Carolina. From a rush transcript of Monday’s debate in the Palmetto State:



I’m saying also that South Carolina is at war with this federal government and with this administration…when you look at what this justice department has done, not only have they taken them to , they have also taken them to task on their immigration law and the most egregious thing is the National Labor Relations Board where they come into a right to work state and tell the state of South Carolina we aren’t going to let a private company come in here.



The second war Perry mentioned is a broader conflict aimed at all of organized faith:



Look, I’ve said this administration is at war against organized religion. And when you look at what they have done, going after churches because churches had that ministerial exception in that and can decide who they were going to hire at their churches, the idea that the Catholic charities cannot take money or the federal government, this administration won’t give them those dollars for sexually trafficked individuals because this administration doesn’t agree with the catholic church on the abortion. If that’s not a war on religion, I don’t know what it is.

Here’s an exchange many considered to be likely in the Republican debate in South Carolina on Monday night — former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum hit former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on felons' right to vote. The issue at hand is the idea that once convicted felons have served their time meet other conditions they can again vote. An ad from a pro-Romney super PAC went after Santorum for essentially being soft on the issue and supporting that view.

“I would ask Governor Romney, do you believe people who were felons who served their time, who have extended, exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?” Santorum asked Romney directly at the debate.

When Romney demurred, saying that he doesn’t control the ads that a super PAC supporting him runs, Santorum said “This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionate high rates, particularly with drug crimes in the African-American community.”

When Santorum again asked Romney what his position was, Romney said “I don’t think who have violent crimes should be allowed to vote. That’s my own view.”

Some weeks back Fox Host Bret Baier caused a stir when he conducted a sitdown interview with Mitt Romney and asked some awkward follow-up questions.

That didn’t happen tonight after Rick Perry set up the perfect opportunity to press Mitt Romney on why he has not yet released his tax records. Perry’s challenge came in the same sentence as a ding on Romney over Bain Capital’s failed steerage of several steel mills. Romney latched onto that aspect and then moved onto a more robust defense of Bain Capital and capitalism generally. No Fox Hosts, including Baier, picked up on the taxes issue.

Bret Baier, the moderator of the Fox News debate on Monday night in South Carolina, didn’t waste any time going after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s attacks against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s career as the CEO of Bain. Baier said that Gingrich said he would run a positive campaign, “Yet you have cited numerous attacks on Governor Romney’s business record. Exact line of attack the Obama Campaign is using. Why?”

Gingrich said all the candidates have records, and that some of the questions about Romney’s came from him and some came from the Wall Street Journal. When Baier pressed Gingrich again, he said “…there was a pattern in some companies, a handful of them, with leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke.”

The opening round of Monday’s Fox News debate in Myrtle Beach, SC was all about Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Newt Gingrich took some swipes at Romney’s time at the company, but it was Rick Perry who really stepped it up, defending his claim that Romney’s business career was “vulture capitalism” and calling on Romney to release his tax returns.

“We cannot fire our nominee in September,” Perry said to Romney, who’s said he won’t release his tax records yet. “We need to know now.”

Mitt Romney, hammered by fact checkers over his claim he created 100,000 net jobs at Bain, tried out a new number in the South Carolina debate: 120,000 jobs from his four most successful investments. That number, which includes companies like Staples, counts jobs that were added long after Romney had anything to do with the businesses, however.

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