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Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Michael Justus, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney meets supporters at Cherokee Trike and More in Greer, S.C., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has a reputation for nasty politics — and there's a good reason for that.

The state has a rich history of electoral mudslinging and bare-knuckled brawling, particularly in its Republican presidential primary.

With little more than a week to go before this year's Jan. 21 GOP primary, it's safe to expect that under-the-radar attacks will occur in the final run-up to the voting.

Four years ago, Mitt Romney's Mormon faith came under attack in bogus Christmas cards distributed under his name. And in 2000, there was a whisper campaign suggesting that Republican John McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh was actually an illegitimate black child.

Romney likes to say "politics ain't bean bags" — and he's ready for whatever comes his way.