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Haley's negative ads irk opponents

Rep. Nikki Haley defended her votes to take federal stimulus cash Tuesday, hours after she released her first television ads criticizing two opponents in the GOP primary race for stances on federal bailout cash.

Haley told the audience at a televised debate that her votes to take stimulus cash were procedural.

Haley told the Faith and Family Forum crowd in Columbia, "The final vote on the budget that contained the stimulus I voted against."

Haley's negative ads immediately drew cries of hypocrisy from opponents.

The spot opens with pictures of her Republican rivals and critical labels. First comes an image of U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and the word "bailouts" written above it. That's followed by a picture of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and "stimulus spending," and then of Attorney General Henry McMaster with "career politicians."

"South Carolina can do better," a male announcer says as video plays showing Haley in the back of a truck.

During the televised debate , Barrett was questioned about his support for federal bank bailouts.

Barrett said he voted against the bailout and then later for it but hasn't been hypocritical.

Bauer said it was "surprising that Nikki's first TV ad would be a negative attack - especially a less than truthful attack."

McMaster, now in his second term as an elected official, is a former state GOP chairman who was appointed U.S. attorney by President Ronald Reagan. During the debate, McMaster, seated between Barrett and Haley, made light of the dustup.

The GOP candidates debated for a half hour before three Democrat hopefuls took the stage for a half hour: State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, State Sen. Vincent Ford and State Education Superintendent Jim Rex.