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Paul Sancya, Associated Press
In this Nov. 9, 2011, photo, Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks during a Republican presidential debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich. The U.S. Constitution forbids setting a religious test for public officials, but, as Romney can testify, political realities can override that guiding principle when evangelical Christians step into the voting booth. Romney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the mainline Mormon denomination. He had to fight back against conservative Christian rejection of his religious beliefs when he unsuccessfully ran for the White House in 2008 and faces the same struggle in his bid to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — South Carolina's Christian conservatives have both made and broken presidential campaigns.

No Republican candidate since 1980 has become the nominee without winning South Carolina and its Bible-driven voters. For them, a candidate's stance against abortion, gay rights and other social issues was paramount.

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But this year, the economy has changed the pecking order.

Evangelicals and the social issues crowd still matter. But that long-time pivotal constituency is far more concerned about paychecks and groceries.

The shift has pushed the religious Bob Jones University off candidates' to-do lists. The current generation of Joneses isn't keeping up the political beat that has had a national impact since Ronald Reagan first ran in 1980. University President Stephen Jones is said to lack the same interest in politics as his father, Bob Jones III.