GOP candidates go after Romney during Myrtle Beach debate - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

GOP candidates go after Romney during Myrtle Beach debate

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WCSC) -

The five remaining candidates took to the stage Monday night in Myrtle Beach, five days before the South Carolina primary.

The first order of business in Monday's debate was to clear the air about political attacks made against each other. Many of the candidates then tried to slow the momentum of frontrunner Mitt Romney after being endorsed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman, who dropped out of the race earlier Monday.

Romney's Republican rivals attacked his record as a private businessman and challenged him to release his federal income tax returns.

"I'm proud of my record," the former Massachusetts governor responded, but he avoided an answer on making his tax returns public.

He said he will most likely do that sometime in April.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended his questioning of Romney's business record saying Romney is running on a very limited public record. Romney countered by saying his business record could withstand any attacks by President Obama in the general election.

The conversation then moved to the economy. Gingrich and former Congressman Rick Santorum declared they do not support 99 weeks worth of unemployment benefits.

The candidates then weighed in on taxes. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Gingrich both say they would implement a flat income tax. Congressman Ron Paul says there should be no income tax. Santorum and Romney said it should be lowered from its current rate.

During the debate, Paul clarified his position on cuts in military spending, saying he does not want to get rid of military jobs in the U.S., but would downgrade on defense spending outside the country.

The GOP candidates will have one more chance to face off before Saturday's primary. On Thursday, the candidates will be in the Lowcountry for one last debate. CNN is hosting the debate at the North Charleston Coliseum at 8 p.m.

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SLIDESHOW: Myrtle Beach debate

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