Folks, not much has changed since my Sunday column with regard to our upcoming endorsements. As you’ll recall, our plan is to endorse in the GOP primary Sunday (Jan. 13), and in the Democratic on the following Sunday. In each case, that means we’ll be publishing the Sunday before the respective primaries.
Even though we’ve had our invitations out to the major candidates since
last summer, only McCain, Brownback, Huckabee and Biden chose to take
advantage of the opportunity before the last minute. That makes this year somewhat unusual for us — an unfortunate result of the compressed primary schedule this year, which caused some campaigns to avoid even thinking seriously about South Carolina before this morning. In 2000, McCain, Bush and Keyes all came in with time to spare. In 2004, Edwards, Lieberman, Dean, Gephardt and Carol Moseley-Brown all came in early enough to allow careful consideration. Only Kerry waited until the very last minute, which created a problem (since we didn’t think we should deliberate until we’d heard from him), one which we vowed to do our best to avoid this time.
Here’s what I sent my publisher earlier today by way of an update, since he and I didn’t have a chance to speak today. Since I’ve been tied up with internal editor stuff today, keeping me from posting as much as I did yesterday, I thought I’d just go ahead and share it with y’all as well:
I need to tell you these three things:
- No word from any of the campaigns yet on interview appointments. At this point, the only Republican I’m still trying on is Romney. It would be a mistake on his part not to come in, so I still have some hopes in that quarter — but it likely will be very short notice when it comes. Giuliani is apparently not going to spend any more time in SC (other than going to the debate in MB tomorrow). Thompson had wanted to come in, but has apparently changed his mind, which is OK … that’s one we would have agreed to on request, but were not particularly seeking. Remember, we’ve already talked with McCain and Huckabee.
- Now that they’re all turning their attention to SC — and now that Sen. Clinton is NOT going to skip our state (as most folks thought yesterday), I’m optimistic about getting them [the top Democratic candidates] in next week. Still no appointments, though. With things changing this fast, everybody is trying to keep their options open as to where they want to be when. Among the Democrats, the ones that most concern us are Clinton and Obama. The only Democrat we’ve already interviewed was Joe Biden, and he dropped out last week.
- As discussed, we’ve decided to release our GOP endorsement (which will run Sunday) early on thestate.com. We’ll put it out there at 3 p.m. Saturday. We’ll do the same the following week with the Democrats. At Mark Lett’s [executive editor, the guy over the newsroom] request, I’ve given the newsroom all my contact numbers in case of media inquiries regarding the endorsement coming through the newsroom. I’ll give Kim Dalglish [the newspaper’s marketing director, who might also receive inquiries, and who might want to promote the endorsements] a heads-up on all this as well.
Remember, our [editorial board] discussion about our GOP endorsement will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday (UNLESS Romney agrees to come in, and the only time he can come is Friday). I’ll be writing that editorial and a column, and paginating the page, starting the instant that meeting is over.
That schedule — assuming everything goes well — is about as tight as we can make it, and still have a page out in time for all board members to read the proofs and raise any questions or problems. That’s standard operating procedure with every day’s page, but it is particularly important to avoid shortcuts on such a high-profile endorsement. Procedurally, something like this is sort of the opposite of this blog, which is a more or less stream-of-consciousness thing that no one looks at but me before it’s published. Since we operate by consensus on editorials, I don’t want any member of the board to feel left out on this. (Warren Bolton will be coming in on his day off, by the way, since we were unable to get this done before Friday, thanks to the campaigns’ procrastination.)
For more on this subject, I refer you to an comment I posted on an earlier post, in response to something Doug Ross had said:
Doug (way back up at the top),
transparency has always been my main goal in writing columns, and that
goes double for my blog. Why on Earth would I spend this time doing
No invitation has been extended to Ron Paul
— or to Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo, Mike Gravel or Duncan Hunter.
But had any of them wanted to come in over the last few months, we
would have made time. We’ve already had our interviews with McCain and Huckabee.
They did a wild and crazy thing that too few campaigns have done — the[y]
accepted back when invitations were first extended to them and the
other main candidates. Late summer, as I recall. (You’ll recall that Brownback and Biden also came in — before dropping out.)
Giuliani, Romney, Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Thompson were all
invited way back then, and invitations have been re-extended since then.
At this point, Giuliani seems to have decided to skip SC, so I’ll be
surprised if he comes in before we make our decision on Friday. The one
candidate I’m MOST concerned with getting in here before Friday, then,
is Romney. I must have talked to four different people in his camp
yesterday (some more than once), reiterating our invitation.
For Romney (and, if a miracle happens, for Giuliani), we will sweep
all other work aside to make time. And BECAUSE we’re trying to keep
these last few hours open for them, I’m not going to bug Thompson any more (I asked again yesterday when Mr. Thompson was here);
nor am I going to extend a last-minute invitation to Dr. Paul. If he
had asked before this week to come in (as Thompson did, as recently as
the last couple of weeks, although he offered no times, which is why I
gave them another chance yesterday), he would have been welcomed.
That’s what I know as of now.