South Carolina: This week’s center of the political universe

February 17, 2016

Columbia, SC

Today started my political tour of South Carolina.  I cannot say that anything surprised me much, but it did confirm some previous assumptions taken from newspapers and television.

I just missed Bernie Sanders, who was in Columbia yesterday.  For the rest of the week he and Hillary Clinton will be preoccupied with the Democratic caucus taking place in Nevada on Saturday.  That looks like it is going to be close.

So, the six remaining Republicans, following their food fight of a debate last Saturday, have South Carolina to themselves.  They are everywhere in the state.

CSPANI started this morning in Columbia. Ben Carson’s website and the list of candidate events published by the South Carolina Republican Party had him scheduled at a veterans’ hall, which is where I went.  So did the CSPAN bus, several local television stations and seven people who appeared to be Carson supporters.  The CSPAN folks told me the location had been changed, but they did not know to where, so they headed off to a Bush rally instead.  Later today, Politico announced that the Carson session occurred at a Ramada Inn in Columbia.  The Politico reporter told me that he attended.

This sloppy staff work is indicative of a campaign that has crashed, whether or not Carson wants to admit it.

I was then off to a rally for Marco Rubio in Aiken.  He was there.  The room was full, maybe 1,000-1,500 people, with overflow outside.  I had a great seat right in front of the stage.

Rubio.JPGRubio was introduced by South Carolina Senator, Tim Scott, who has endorsed him.  Scott warmed up the crowd by saying, among other things, that he failed high school civics, English and Spanish — and now he is now a United States Senator.  He told the attendees not to worry, there are lots of other senators who are civics-challenged.

Rubio is a very effective speaker, and he did not repeat himself once.  He has facts and cadence down very well.  The room was very pleased.

I sat next to a woman who told me that she had seen Ted Cruz, Donald Trump (twice), and now Rubio.  She favors Trump.  She told me that she is a “typical Southern lady”.  She also told me that she always packs heat, but she did not bring it in today because she thought there might be metal detectors like at Trump rallies; however, Rubio does not have Secret Service protection yet.

The final stop of the day was in Sumter for a Trump rally.  This session also had an out-of-the-building overflow crowd that was three or four times larger than Rubio’s.  No ethnic or gender group was insulted.  The 40 minute speech had all the red-meat lines about Mexico, China, lobbyists, and campaign donors that play so politically correct to the audiences that Trump is appealing to.

TRUMP.jpgOne thing about the rally stuck out for me, something I have never heard in any political rally I have ever attended.  Before Trump came out, there was a voice-of-God type announcer saying something along the following line: Mr. Trump believes in both the first and the second amendment.  Therefore, a secured space has been provided for protesters outside of the building.  If there are any protesters inside the building, please do not harm those people.  Please call out, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” and the security staff will take care of it.  I was reminded of movies such as Face in the Crowd and All the King’s Men, and maybe what happened  in a foreign country many years ago.

Tomorrow is another day.  I hope to track down the other candidates by the end of the week.



One thought on “South Carolina: This week’s center of the political universe

  1. Great reporting Ken. It seems more authentic when one knows the reporter.
    Re your impression of Rubio, that skill hasn’t translated via television, at least for me. I saw Gov Cuomo yesterday in Buffalo and he seemed head and shoulders above the presidential contenders in both parties. Less shrill from his style of a few years ago – no shouting and, seemingly, the absence of the “young bully” attitude.
    I look forward to your upcoming reports from SC .


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