MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- Republican presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday named for the slain civil rights leader.
Campaigning in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary, both men also reminded a largely black audience of actions they had taken in public office to honor King's memory and his cause of racial justice.
Gingrich said that as a young congressman from Georgia in 1979, the first bill he introduced in Congress was legislation to make King's birthday a national holiday.
Perry said that as Texas governor, he appointed the first black, Wallace Jefferson, to the state Supreme Court, and later elevated him to chief justice.
Both men spoke at a MLK Day breakfast several hours before a scheduled candidates' debate in Myrtle Beach.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)