Columbia, SC – The ballroom was half-empty but the crowd enthusiastic as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney introduced himself to voters in this crucial early-primary state.
In front of party activists, state politicians, and high school students, Romney introduced two words that are a theme of his campaign: "Innovation and transformation."
The speech also hit a laundry list of Romney's positions, from support of a troop increase in Iraq to a call for universal health care. The candidate also defended his changing views on abortion.
Responding to reporters questions after the speech, Romney said, "I've never been in favor of discrimination against a people based on race, creed, or preferences such as gay preference. So I have the same position today. I've always opposed same sex marriage."
However, Romney has changed his views on abortion. In the past few years, he's switched from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life, a switch Romney defended, saying, "I believe that the Roe-v-Wade mentality of the last couple of decades has so cheapened the value of life in our society that it's important for us to stand up and say, 'you know what? We can't continue that way.'"
Romney's speech won over some in the crowd, but others left saying they'll wait to hear from the other candidates before making up their minds. With the primary a year away, there's a lot of campaigning yet to go in South Carolina.