It's a state bordering on 10 percent unemployment having suffered decades of plant closings at the hands of Wall Street predators. Will South Carolina voters be receptive to the argument by Mitt Romney's GOP rivals New Gingrich and Rick Perry that his record in business as CEO of Bain Capital renders him unelectable?
Here's how Perry put it in a midnight interview with CNN's Piers Morgan:
There is a real difference between a venture capitalist and a vulture capitalist. Venture capitalists are good. They go in, they inject their capital, they create jobs. Bain Capital on the other hand, it appears to me, were vulture capitalists all too often. I don't get confused for a minute that Barack Obama and his team wouldn't attack Mitt Romney on that during a general election on that if he makes it that far. If nothing else we're doing Mitt a favor by exposing him early on so that he can either figure out how to defend that or, more importantly and better from my perspective, he's not the nominee to begin with.
So far Romney has not met the merits of the charge, but instead defended in two ways: By claiming that his rivals are attacking capitalism, and accusing them of joining the Democrats in making these charges.
Given the momentum of his early victories Romney might be able to brush aside Republican foes with such deflection. But at some point he'll need a substantive answer for his record -- and especially for his much maligned claim that he created "100,000" jobs at Bain Capital. Otherwise, this story is his Swift Boat to defeat in November.