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"Although both shootings took place close to one another and had young victims named Jermaine, North Charleston detectives say they are not related."

A Channel 2 news report on recent late-night shootings in North Charleston. Having the same first name may be interesting, but it seems entirely unrelated to the case. Now, if one had been named Michael, Marlon, Jackie, or Tito, then we'd be on board for a connection in the crimes.

YouTube Debate: GOP Edition

It's been months since CNN and YouTube invaded Charleston for the Democratic Debate, but we can hardly stomach a bus shed event without the grass under our feet and the assortment of celebrity sightings. Florida got the special treatment last week for the Republican debate, and while the increased number of questions and the record viewers may be because we're getting closer to election day, it certainly benefited from the success of the Charleston event.

Though he's been steadily climbing the polls, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts likely doomed aspirations of a South Carolina win after a young man from Texas asked the candidates what they thought of the Confederate Flag (stars and bars edition) sending Romney into nothing less than a hissy-fit over his distaste for the flag.

"That's not a flag that I recognize," he said. "The people of our country decided not to fly that flag, and that's the right thing."

While some accuse Romney of just saying what people want to hear, this surprising bit of candor couldn't have come at a worse time. Not only did he bad-mouth the flag that is a staple in South Carolina, but he hardly treated the questioner with any respect. While the young man who asked the question may, in fact, be a racist, he probably doesn't realize it.

The star of the night was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who charmed with homespun answers on the Bible and immigration. At this point, you have to look for the candidate who wins new voters over. Huckabee did that, while everybody else just fired up their base.

The best candidate-submitted YouTube of either debate goes to Fred Thompson. Other campaigns went too low-tech or too polished. Thompson's use of video to highlight Romney's support of abortions and Huckabee's habit of raising taxes was the essence of what YouTube is all about, particularly in the political realm. His response to Anderson Cooper's question about the commercial was also priceless: "I wanted to give my buddies here a little extra air time." ­— Greg Hambrick

Sign of the Past Times

The Palmetto Grande in Mt. Pleasant ran the gay-advocacy ad "Acceptance Without Exception" for a week before pulling it after an unknown (but apparently limited) number of complaints, according to ad sponsors the Alliance for Full Acceptance. Much like the group's Interstate 26 billboard, the ad runs through various takes on "Some of the best ___ are gay," including parents, children, friends, leaders, and employees. The most scandalous part of the plain ad is the word "gay," but apparently that was enough to incense at least one movie-goer.

The theater could relay only one story of a woman complaining after her six-year-old daughter asked what "gay" meant, says Warren Redman-Gress with AFFA. Though there were other complaints, they apparently weren't logged and this was the only particular complaint the manager could provide, Redman-Gress says.

AFFA will likely respond with some coordinated reaction.

"We can't just let this go," he says. "There is a teachable moment here."

Greg Hambrick

$180,000

That's how much Hopefund, a political action committee created by Sen. Barack Obama, has doled out to Dems in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, with most of that money going to supporters of his presidential bid. The campaign admitted to coordinating with the PAC regarding contributions to local campaigns but says it did so legally. Source: The Washington Post

O, What a Night

Oprah Winfrey will be stumping for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama in Columbia on Sun., Dec. 9. She's hoping to give an extra push for Obama among her fans — housewives, working women with TiVO, and guys on mood-altering medication.

"I know him personally, and I think what he stands for ... is worth me going out on a limb for him," Winfrey told Larry King earlier this year of her first presidential endorsement. That said, she has nothing bad to say about his primary challenger, Sen. Hillary Clinton. "Because I'm for Barack does not mean I'm against Hillary."

Doors open for the rally at 12:30 p.m. at the Colonial Center. The event is free, but tickets are required and available through the campaign at www.barackobama.com or at the local campaign office (724-1108). —Greg Hambrick

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