As the candidates prepared for Thursday night's Republican Presidential Debate at the Peace Center in Greenville, S.C., a Tea Party "Freedom Rally" was already under way at a hotel six blocks away.
Scores of Tea Party activists filed into a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency as children in period costume sang patriotic songs. The rally also featured a cadre of high profile speakers, including Judge Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who lost his job after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, and Nikki Haley, South Carolina's first female governor.
"The Change we've done in South Carolina can be done across the country," Haley said to the cheering audience of approximately 200. "We need to change the person in the White House."
Other speakers brought up causes ranging from defending traditional marriage to making gold and silver legal tender in South Carolina.
Security at the rally is tight. Organizers required attendees to provide their drivers licenses, which are being photographed.
The rally, which began at 2 p.m., was scheduled to run beyond 11:00 p.m. Thursday night, concluding with an open forum for candidates following the Republican Presidential Debate.