Candidates Stump Down to the Wire in SC

By Justin Torres | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Columbia, SC ( - Republican presidential candidates criss-crossed South Carolina Saturday in a last minute attempt to win the support of the state's undecided voters.

Arizona Senator John McCain opened the day in Greenville at a meeting in a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

"When I am president, I swear to you that there will be no more 'food stamp' Army," said McCain, who has made appeals to South Carolina's large veteran population a cornerstone of his campaign.

Warm temperatures and sunny skies have raised expectations that voter turnout will be the highest ever for a Palmetto State presidential primary. Already, the South Carolina secretary of state reports that absentee ballots were cast at a rate 18 percent higher than normal.

McCain has told supporters throughout the state that he will win if voters turnout in record numbers.

"Whether you're a conservative, an independent, a Libertarian, a vegetarian, whomever - vote for me and I'll see those dreams are brought to reality," said McCain Friday night in an appearance at the College of Charleston.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush spent election day campaigning in the capital city of Columbia and upstate, where polls show that his support is highest.

"I like my chances," Bush told supporters in Columbia. "I like the enthusiasm I've seen for this campaign all across the state."

Bush's campaign is privately predicting a close victory.

"It won't be a big win, maybe two or three points. But, we'll take two or three point victories in every state if we have to," said one Bush campaign staff member to

Meanwhile, distant third-place candidate Alan Keyes has set up headquarters in Greenville in the northern part of the state.

"We've placed our trust in God, and we'll wait and see how things turn out," James Tucker, a Keyes volunteer from Anderson, S.C. told