strong>ROCK HILL, S.C. — As Winthrop University prepares to welcome the three Democratic presidential hopefuls Friday evening, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is on campus ensuring South Carolina voters hear his conservative message first.

A crowd of roughly 200 turned out to see the Republican candidate participate in a town hall meeting Friday alongside South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy. The forum was the latest in a presidential series hosted by Scott in his home state.

Paul currently stands in the shadows in the GOP field. His low poll numbers and modest fundraising figures are dwarfed by fellow Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who both increased their momentum with strong performances in the third Republican debate.

Nevertheless, the Kentucky senator appeared confident Friday as he fielded questions on a handful of issues central to his campaign. Earlier Thursday evening, Fox Business announced that Paul had earned just enough in the polls to be included in the fourth prime-time debate next week. Two of his rivals — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — weren't as lucky.

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