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Greenville Online: Peace Center to host GOP presidential hopefuls

People who want to be president of the United States will once again take to the Peace Center stage to woo voters in South Carolina and across the nation.

Citizens United, the conservative activist group famous for winning a Supreme Court case on political spending, plans its third Freedom Summit at the Peace Center on May 9 in conjunction with U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of Laurens.

The event will bring at least six potential Republican White House hopefuls to downtown Greenville for a day of stump speeches.

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Confirmed to attend, according to Citizens United, are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Citizens United said it would announce additional speakers later, but Duncan said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush won’t be among them.

“Jeb Bush and I have communicated,” Duncan said. “He has a commencement address in Florida that day that is precluding his having the ability to come.”

Duncan said at least three other South Carolina congressmen – Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and Mark Sanford of Charleston – are expected to attend.

A similar event hosted by Citizens United in Des Moines, Iowa, in late January generated national headlines.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another potential GOP presidential candidate, found himself at the top of a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll of Iowa caucus-goers a few days after delivering his stump speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit. It was hosted by Citizens United in conjunction with U.S. Rep. Steve King.

“Scott Walker was launched at the Iowa Freedom Summit,” said David Bossie, Citizens United president.

A different candidate could catch a wave at the South Carolina summit, he said.

Bossie said each potential candidate at the Greenville event will speak for 20 minutes, and “everybody gets treated exactly the same.”

He said the summit is free for South Carolina conservatives and includes lunch. The Web site for the event can be found at

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