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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—While Mount Myrtle, the 1,000-ton, 20-foot sand likeness of the Republican presidential candidates drew most of the attention of passersby, Helen Pannullo and her husband John were busy volunteering for the day’s events leading up to the First-in-the-South Republican presidential primary debate last Thursday.
Helen, the incoming president of the Brunswick County Republican women, and John, GOP precinct chairman for the Grissettown precinct, spent last Wednesday and Thursday in Myrtle Beach, volunteering at various events. They even had the opportunity to watch the debate firsthand.
“I thought it was very interesting,” Helen said about the debate this week.
“We volunteered to work the debate through the Step Up program at Coastal Carolina University,” she said.
The Pannullos’ duties included volunteering at a luncheon and behind the scenes tour at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, the day before the debate. That evening, they volunteered at the First-in-the-South dinner, where Fred Thompson and his wife Jeri made an appearance, she said.
Thursday afternoon, the couple worked at the first ladies’ luncheon, hosted by South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford, and attended by Ann Romney, Jeri Thompson and Janet Huckabee.
While Helen and John are both associated with the Brunswick County Republican Party, the twosome volunteered on their own, not as liaisons for the Brunswick County Republican Party, she said.
“My husband and I were the only ones. It was more of an individual effort.”
As for watching the debate once inside the debate hall, “I think probably Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney impressed me the most,” Helen said, noting her personal opinion did not represent a Republican Party endorsement.
Helen says she agrees with Thompson’s and Romney’s stances on the economy and the war in Iraq.
“Thompson really did make an effort to get into the debate,” she added.
While South Carolina’s primary is just days away, North Carolina’s primary is not until May. She says things may change by that time.
“With the North Carolina primary being so late in May, it may come down to two or three of those candidates,” she said.
But even with the North Carolina primary being so far away, Helen is still happy with the two-day event and the debate.
“Everything went very, very smoothly down there. It was very well organized and the town was very welcoming.”
The Brunswick County Republican Women meet at 5:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the party’s headquarters on Old Ocean Highway in Supply. For more information, contact Helen Pannullo at 579-5533.