Politics & Government

S.C. GOP gubernatorial candidates support Arizona immigration law, offshore drilling

All four Republicans who want to be South Carolina's next governor say they would veto a bill to raise the state's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and would welcome an Arizona-style immigration reform bill that aims to deport illegal immigrants.

Monday, the four Republicans seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in June's primary faced off during a live debate that aired statewide on ETV. The three Democratic candidates debated Sunday evening.

All four Republicans were in agreement that comprehensive tax reform is needed. Thus, none of them would sign a bill that raised the state's cigarette tax without a comprehensive review of the entire tax code.

"I believe the impulse we have to raise taxes to solve all problems is not the right answer," said state Attorney General Henry McMaster who, like the other three contenders, stressed the need for taxes that are flatter.

Still, three of the four candidates said they support outright the elimination of the corporate income tax - McMaster, Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.

"If we really want to change the way that South Carolina is perceived, that would be the number one vehicle," Bauer said. "Businesses would flock here. They'd come here solely based on the (elimination of the corporate) income tax."

U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, an Oconee County Republican, said a review of all taxes would be needed to determine the best way to attract industry to the state.

All four candidates also said they support drilling off of the Palmetto State's coast as long as caution is taken.

"We have to be sensitive to what's happening off the (Louisiana) coast and apply it to South Carolina," Barrett said, referring to the massive BP oil slick that's affecting marine life and nearing the Florida Gulf coast.

Haley likened the spill to an airplane crash and said all plane trips are not stopped because of one disaster.

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