There could be just as many people protesting outside the event’s Benjamin Johnson Arena location, though.
Progressive groups across the state scheduled demonstrations that evening in the city and directly across from the debate site.
Russell Bannan organized a protest march in representation of worker’s rights and social justice, and participants will include the South Carolina Progressive Network, the state’s AFL-CIO and other labor unions, and Jobs with Justice.
Those particular issues hit home here, he says. “The GOP right now has been on a non-stop attack, especially in South Carolina, against organized labor’s rights and worker’s rights to collectively bargain,” political activist Bannan told the local Patch. He anticipates participation from hundreds.
The march begins from Morgan Square at 6 p.m.
Another demonstration begins at 4 p.m. at the corner of Evins and Church Sts. Debbie Gardner Morrow, a progressive organizer in Spartanburg, has recruited many to join her in a functional, but still fun, demonstration.
Choreographed signage will be combined with parody songs in a sarcastic-yet-spirited theme at the gathering, she said.
The focus of Morrow’s demonstration is quite a smorgasbord. Basically, any of the many things that progressive minds find unbalanced at the moment – “unemployment, energy and the environment, good education, voter suppression, wars, women’s rights and civil rights, income disparity, unfair taxation” – can be targeted, Morrow said.
She expects participants from not just the Spartanburg and Greenville area, but from as far away as Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, too.
Local “Occupy” groups in the state have also hinted at possible demonstrations that day.
The 90-minute debate, hosted by CBS News and the National Journal, begins at 8 p.m. Scott Pelley of CBS and National Journal’s Major Garrett will be the moderators.
The first hour will be broadcast live on Spartanburg’s CBS affiliate, WSPA-2. Patch.com’s Taylors-Wade Hampton edition will also host an online viewing, and with guest commentators that include Examiner’s Rob Groce.
The eight Republican candidates for president who’ll appear are Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Foreign affairs and national security are the anticipated topics of focus.
In an average of most recent polls of South Carolina Republican voters, Cain has a four-point lead over Romney, with Gingrich taking a distant third place.
Another South Carolina debate of Republican candidates is scheduled for January 16 in Myrtle Beach, just five days before the January 21 primary election in the state.