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Republican leaders in South Carolina say Saturday's vote is a key step in the process to select the party's presidential candidate for the November elections. Since former President Ronald Reagan won the South Carolina primary on his way to victory in the 1980 general election, no Republican candidate has captured the White House without winning the state's primary.
Recent opinion polls show the top two candidates are Senator John McCain and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Both held numerous campaign events across the state ahead of the vote.