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      DeMint hosts forum featuring leading GOP presidential candidates

      The Palmetto Freedom Forum was hosted by Sen. Jim Demint. / SCETV

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- The leading Republican presidential candidates visited South Carolina this Labor Day to attend a forum in Columbia hosted by U.S. senator and tea party favorite Jim DeMint.

      Those attending included Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas congressman Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was supposed to attend, but he said he would return to his home state to monitor wildfires there.

      The participants pledged fidelity to the Constitution and vowed to carry the Tea Party's banner to Washington, in an attempt to sell themselves as an endorsable candidate to DeMint.

      'I would change the corporate tax rate, which is currently the highest in world," says Bachmann, "down to the 20 percent."

      Although Herman Cain has never held an elected office, the CEO of Godfather Pizza believes he has a plan to get Americans back to work.

      Eliminate the current tax code, says Cain, and then impose a nine percent tax code on corporate profits, a nine percent tax on personal income minus a few small deductions and a nine percent national sales tax which is consumption."

      Following his on-stage appearance, Cain answered questions from the media.

      More Primary News... Bachmann says Obama failed when it comes to recession Gingrich commits to DeMint forum, Romney out Perry, Bachmann commit to DeMint Labor Day forum

      Newt Gingrich criticized President Barack Obama during his interview session.

      He is the most effective food stamp president in American history and if you think about it, that is actually a tragedy, states Gingrich. That means millions of jobs have been killed unnecessarily and we should all understand this economy is in grave danger of getting worse, not getting better.

      Gingrich also took time to meet with journalists.

      As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the event, according to Ron Paul is a reminder to officials that it TMs time for the nation TMs troops to return home.

      The troops are over there because of a miscalculation and the miscalculation is the fact that we never asked as a country what was motivation of 9/11, says Paul. If you don't ask the motivation and you continue to do the same thing, the numbers of attacks are going to grow and grow -- and the more troops that you put around the world and looking at the sanctuary rather than at the problem, the greater the danger we are going be in and the more vulnerable we will be.

      Romney says the Obama administration flaunted the constitution to push a political agenda.

      What I see right now in Washington is the belief that somehow Washington knows better than the people, adds Romney, that the sovereign ought to go back being the government, not the people. The reason I see us struggling economically is because Washington has become too assertive.

      Invitations were extended based on how candidates are doing in the polls. Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, for example, was not invited but he's campaigning in the Midlands and in upstate South Carolina this Labor Day.

      Labor Day marks the unofficial start to the 2012 campaign for the White House. South Carolina has the South's first GOP presidential primary early next year.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)