Category Archives: Republicans

What Lindsey Graham said about bombing suspect

There’s been a lot of overwrought reaction to Lindsey Graham’s suggestion that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be tried by military tribunal rather than under our criminal system.

For instance, there was this writer over at Forbes who moaned, “Why is it that those who spend an inordinate amount of time professing their dedication and fealty to the United States Constitution seem to always be among the first to toss our founding document out the window the moment it becomes inconvenient to their desires?”

Which is a grossly unfair mischaracterization of Lindsey Graham and what he said.

What did he say? The main ideas can be found in a series of Tweets starting Friday night, and continuing through this morning:

If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

If the #Boston suspect has ties to overseas terror organizations he could be treasure trove of information.

The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

The Obama Administration needs to be contemplating these issues and should not rush into a bad decision.

I appreciate the hard work and bravery of our law enforcement and intelligence communities. #Boston

Now that the suspect is in custody, the last thing I want is for him to remain silent. #Boston

It is vital he be questioned for intelligence gathering purposes about possible future plots. #Boston

We should be focused on preventing possible attacks over the coming hours and days. #Boston

The least of my worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now. #Boston

The Law of War allows us to hold individual in this scenario as potential enemy combatant w/o Miranda warnings or appointment of counsel.

The goal is to gather intelligence and protect our nation which is under threat from radical Islam. #Boston

I hope the Obama Administration will seriously consider this option. #Boston

Just put out this statement with @SenJohnMcCain about #Boston suspect and #Miranda warning. …

It is clear events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens & terrorize a major American city

The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise….

Under the Law of War we can hold #Boston suspect as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or appointment of counsel.

Just released this statement with @KellyAyotte @SenJohnMcCain and @RepPeteKing about Boston / enemy combatant..

American citizens who take up arms against our nation or collaborate with our enemies HAVE been held as enemy combatants.

The questioning of an enemy combatant for national security purposes has no limit on time or scope.

In a case like #Boston, it could take weeks to prepare the questions needed to be asked & months before intelligence gathering is completed.

An enemy combatant is entitled to a habeas hearing before a federal judge with appointment of a counsel. Usually, w/in 30 days of capture.

As to any future trial, if this suspect is an American citizen, he is NOT subject to military commission trial. #Boston

Under the Law of War, suspect must be humanely treated, consistent w/ the Detainee Treatment Act, domestic law, and the Geneva Conventions.

A decision to NOT read Miranda rights to the suspect was sound and in our national security interests.

I could care less about the trial – a first year law student could do this trial – I want to gather intelligence. …

Graham spoke with @foxandfriends earlier this morning about enemy combatant status for Boston suspect. …

The reason you see some repetition in those Tweets is that Graham was responding to comments by others, and reiterating points.

As it happened, so far Graham’s wishes have been followed — the prisoner has not been Mirandized, and apparently has been interrogated to the extent that his wounds (he was shot in the throat) will allow. It is not necessary to consider him an “enemy combatant” to withhold the Miranda warnings, under the public safety exemption — in other words, to gather the intelligence that Sen. Graham values.

As to his being considered an “enemy combatant” — well that’s a war of words that Republicans have been carrying on with Democrats for 12 years now. Republicans prefer the rules of war; Democrats prefer to treat terrorism as a cops-and-robbers thing.

This case seems to be to dwell in sort of a twilight area — and arguments to treat it as war and as crime both seem to have some legitimacy.

Tsarnaev — the one who still lives — is a citizen. And not a citizen off in Yemen somewhere working with al Qaeda, whom President Obama might kill with a drone (just to help us remember that Democrats, too, have gone far beyond the bounds of due process in pursuing what can only be called a war — else there’s no justification for such actions). He’s a citizen who went bad like the Columbine killers.

His brother’s recent fascination with radical Islamism does suggest something that fits within the “War on Terror,” but I think we need to see more evidence that these attacks were somehow coordinated with a hostile foreign organization before we consider this something other than a mass murder. Perhaps such evidence will emerge.

When he is criminally prosecuted on state and federal charges, I wonder if there will be a charge — along with multiple counts of murder and many more of attempted murder — having to do with bringing Boston to a halt? I wonder what that cost, in terms of lost economic activity. This is on my mind after reading about the guy who we are told ran off naked on acid, and all the resources devoted to trying to find him. How much more did the Tsarnaev brothers cost the city, state and federal governments, plus untold thousands of businesses?

But I digress. By the way, while I was traveling over the weekend — driving to Memphis and back for a wedding — Bryan Caskey already did a post on this subject, which you might want to check out.

DCCC’s Appalachian Trail advert

The national Republican Party has washed its hands of Mark Sanford — but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is firmly in the corner of his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch,

As evidenced by the ad above.

Meanwhile, some Republicans seem to be worrying about their association with Sanford even if he wins. The concern seems to be that he would further damage their reputation with women, either way.

In that vein I share the below interview with Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board.

NRCC won’t support Sanford candidacy

If you were wondering whether the allegation that Mark Sanford trespassed at his wife’s house would have an effect on the special election in the 1st Congressional District, the answer is “yes:”

National Republicans are pulling the plug on Mark Sanford’s suddenly besieged congressional campaign, POLITICO has learned — a potentially fatal blow to the former South Carolina governor’s dramatic comeback bid.

Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.

National Republicans are pulling the plug on Mark Sanford’s suddenly besieged congressional campaign, POLITICO has learned — a potentially fatal blow to the former South Carolina governor’s dramatic comeback bid.

Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.

Ow. That’s gotta hurt.

I’m starting to think that in spite of that being a GOP seat since 1980, and despite the district being even more Republican after the last reapportionment, Elizabeth Colbert Busch now has a very real chance of winning.

Haley poll results: Up or down? No, statistically the same…

First, I saw this release from the state Democratic Party:

Columbia – Today, Winthrop University released its latest public polling data showing that once again, the majority of South Carolinians do not approve of the job Governor Nikki Haley is doing. The Governor made meager gains from within her Republican base but continues to turn off moderates in South Carolina with her politics before people approach that is standing in the way of creating 44,000 jobs by expanding health care, and is costing South Carolina’s taxpayers millions of dollars as a result of the corruption and dysfunction in the state government. The poll also contained bad news for the governor who got elected on a Tea Party wave and consistently chooses to put Tea-Party politics ahead of sound policy – the approval rating for the Tea Party continues to wan with only a quarter of respondents approving of the Governor’s Tea Party movement.

Then, I went back and looked at the news story, which said the opposite:


COLUMBIA — A pair of major 2014 candidates in South Carolina watched opinions about them go in different directions in a new poll released Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s job approval is rising among voters — especially those in her Republican party, while U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham saw his support within the GOP falter over the past two months, according to a new Winthrop University poll…

So was she down or up? Well, while both reports were technically true, the reality is that statistically speaking, the level of support for Haley is the same as it’s been. The reported shift is within the margin of error:

Haley’s approval rating among South Carolinians rose to 43.5 percent, up a percentage point from two months ago.

The first-term Republican scores 45 percent among registered voters — also up a percentage point and the fourth straight gain in the past year of Winthrop polls.

More than one in three does not like the governor’s performance in office.

But Haley’s popularity among Republicans rose two percentage points to 69 percent since February — a high in two years of Winthrop polls…

The poll’s margin of error among registered voters was 3.5 percent.

Also… while Haley was “up” and Graham was “down,” Graham is still doing better than the governor is among all voters — although again, the difference between them is less than the margin of error:

His approval among registered voters dropped four percentage points to 44 percent in the past two months and slid among all South Carolinians two percentage points to 45 percent…

The most significant change for Graham was among Republicans, dropping “57.5 percent from 71.6 percent in February.”

Oh, by the way, though — if you think Graham’s numbers are bad, Tim Scott has a 38-percent approval rating among all voters, and 54 percent among Republicans.

So, let’s try to keep everything in perspective.

More to the point, Yours Truly would be disenfranchised

My attention was just now drawn to this website devoted to saving the SC GOP presidential preference primary:

Are you a South Carolina Republican? If so, there’s an effort underway to take away your right to vote.

A small group of fringe activists, backed by special interest groups, are working to end our Republican primaries and replace them with nominations by convention. Thousands of us would be disenfranchised, allowing a select few power brokers to pick our Republican candidates.

We cannot let this happen. The only way to stop them is for you to take part in the South Carolina Republican Party re-organization process.

We are counting on YOU to help us Save Our Primary. There are only four simple steps:

  1. SIGN THE PLEDGE to show your support for our South Carolina Republican Primaries.
  2. WATCH THE VIDEO to see how the Republican Party Reorganization process works [view video].
  3. KNOW THE INFO that will allow you to take part in the process, including the dates and locations for your Precinct Meeting and County Convention.
  4. SPREAD THE WORD by sharing this page with other Republican voters in South Carolina.

Get started below…

Maybe the folks behind this site are worried about Republicans being disenfranchised, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that those of us who would rather watch Reality TV, or suffer some other terrible torture, than be identified with either party, would be disenfranchised.

Republicans would at least be free to seek slots as delegates to the convention. The rest of us wouldn’t have that option. And we would lose our chance to have a say in a decision that is our one chance to affect the outcome of presidential elections, since it is always a foregone conclusion which candidate will get out state’s electoral voted in the general.

All of that said, I’m only going to start worrying about this when I hear more from the supposed perpetrators of this outrage. I really have no idea of the extent to which this is an actual threat.

Grooms concedes in 1st District GOP primary

Rather than clinging to the hope of a recount, Larry Grooms is conceding in the 1st Congressional District GOP primary:


Charleston, SC – Larry Grooms issued the following statement about the 1st Congressional Primary Election results and the pending recount:

“By a voting margin of less than 1%, my plans to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District have ended.

1 Thessalonians 5 teaches us that we should give thanks in all things. While there is great disappointment for coming so very close in such an incredibly difficult election, there is no doubt cause to give thanks and rejoice.

For instance, in a very crowded field, being massively outspent and with a fraction of the news coverage as others – we can rejoice knowing our campaign brought much-needed attention to the serious issues facing South Carolina and the nation. While many continue to ignore spending problems in Washington, pay lip service to the debt crises and show disdain for morality – our campaign was able to remind the people about the principles and freedoms that made this country great. In fact, what we accomplished despite the odds shows the power of united conservative front. I approached the campaign just as I approach my job as your State Senator – ever striving to unite conservatives and lead others to the conservative cause. That’s a major reason for my success in Columbia, and that’s the very reason way we came so close in this election. When we, as conservatives, fight together on the local, state or national level we succeed.

I am truly thankful to serve in this wonderful Senate district and it’s a job I take very seriously. I pledge to continue fighting for conservatism at the state level by working to protect the taxpayers’ money and their values with every single vote.

I will forever be indebted to my family, friends, supporters and volunteers who sacrificed more for me than I will ever be able to repay. The kindness and generosity of those who believe in my fight for freedom and liberty is overwhelming and I am humbly grateful.

In a special note to my bride of 30 years Carol, I could not and would not have done this without her by my side. Next to the Lord, she is my rock and the constant cause for joy in my life.

To the possibility of a recount, as I understand it, the state Election Commission will begin an automatic recount as outlined by state law – and I will be the ‘official’ third place finisher in the race. I wish Gov. Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic all the best. Like all the candidates and office holders across America, they too will constantly be in my prayers.”


That sort of surprised me. He ran so hard, I figured he’d want to hold out a little longer.

Michele Bachmann certainly does whine a lot

Today, Michele Bachmann writes, yet again, to tell me that the Democrats are picking on her:

Fellow Conservative,

The national Democrats would love nothing more than to see me lose — and they have already decided to pull out all the stops to make that happen.

In fact just yesterday, Roll Call – a Capitol Hill political publication — is hinting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is telling reporters that I’m on the top of their list for defeat. (The DCCC is Nancy Pelosi’s campaign slush fund.)

You see, the DCCC has already identified my district and campaign as one they are targeting for defeat in 2014. And you can bet they will have the resources to go all out. In 2012 alone, the DCCC raised and spent more than $184 million dollars to defeat Republicans.

And, in addition to working overtime to defeat our campaign, they have willing accomplices in the liberal media to continue their dirty work by misrepresenting and misleading voters all over the national airwaves.

Fellow Conservative, I need your help to fight back.

I cannot do this without you. Our campaign is entirely funded by the donations of my supporters and close friends like yourself.

Won’t you please make an instant online contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more right now so I can fight back against the liberals in the national media and at the DCCC?

You see, the DCCC has it all wrong. They think that if they can defeat me, they will have defeated our values. But, our campaign isn’t about me- it’s about US. It’s about restoring our government and economy, protecting our shared constitutional conservative values, eliminating the wasteful spending in Washington, and ensuring our conservative voice is heard.

We cannot let the DCCC undo all of the great work we have done in the past. The actions we take today will determine our future.

If the national Democrats and the liberal media are going to start campaigning against me this early — then you and I must start this early as well.

And that’s exactly why I’m writing you today.

You have been a loyal supporter and friend, but your continued support has never been more important. The ultra-liberals at the DCCC are now openly targeting my race, and we need to fight back.

The fastest way to join our campaign is by making an online donation.

Thank you for standing with me at the outset of what promises to be an exciting year.


Michele Bachmann

PS. I need your urgent support. The fact that the DCCC is working this early to defeat our campaign, proves that they will pull out all the stops this election cycle. We must work hard today to prove we are going to fight back with everything we have. Please follow this link to show your support and make your most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more today. Thanks.

It’s gotten to where, when I get an email from Michele, I want to respond the way Grace the secretary in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” did to Jeannie: “Who’s bothering you now?”

GOP report unusually candid about the party’s problems

When I saw this Tweet this morning, and read the text before seeing whom it was from:



… I immediately thought it was about a new party — because of course neither the Democrats nor the Republicans fit that description.

But it was from the SC GOP, and it was about the report that came out today, in which the national party examines its recent failures and prescribes what it hopes will be a cure.

I had already read a little bit about it earlier in the day, as Chris Moody over at Yahoo had condensed it to a list of 10 things the report says the party needs to do going forward.

The report itself is strikingly candid. I’m not accustomed to seeing political parties be so publicly open about their problems:

The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing andsuccessful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly diffcult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. States in which our presidential candidates used to win, such as New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida, are increasingly voting Democratic. We are losing in too many places. It has reached the point where in the past six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 211 for the Republican. During the preceding two decades, from 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six elections, averaging 417 electoral votes to Democrats’ 113.

Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us…

That may be the first time in my long career that I’ve seen such an admission from either party. Especially Republicans, who always sound like they think theirs is the best of all possible parties.

Here’s the full report if you want to read it.

‘It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House…’

Somehow I missed this when it was in the Charleston Business Review way back in January — until Burl, all the way from Hawaii, brought it to our attention today:

Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.

“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.

Well, he certainly pegged that. The House did indeed do the totally irrational thing and reject Medicaid. Which makes this prophetic statement from a GOP lawmaker — and you did notice the part about him being a Republican, right? — particularly noteworthy.

Why is he so out of step with his caucus? Because he’s a doctor, so he knows better.

That’s chapter one of our story. Chapter two is that this week, Rep. Crawford fulfilled his own prophecy by voting along with his party on the issue. But then, so did all but one Democrat:

Crawford voted against accepting the money on Wednesday because it was proposed as part of the state’s budget — which he says is not the right place to do it. Instead, he wants to propose separate legislation later this year, and he worried that if he voted with the Democrats on the budget none of his Republican colleagues would support him…

Meanwhile, Dick Harpootlian has castigated Crawford for the wrong thing, referring to his “the racist and inexcusable comments by Rep. Kris Crawford regarding Medicaid expansion.

I tend to agree with Todd Rutherford, who said, “I am never bothered by someone stating the truth.”

Meanwhile, Crawford has baked down on the more inflammatory part of his comment, but not on the general thrust:

In an interview on Thursday, Crawford said his vote on the state budget was political, but said it had nothing to do with race — noting that if he had to do it over again, he “might pick different words.” But he stood behind the larger point of his comments, criticizing Haley and the House Republican Caucus for voting against the expansion purely because a Democratic president is for it.

Lesson (too late) for Romney: Always thank the servers

47 percent

HuffPost has been talking to the bartender who shot the infamous “47 percent” footage that did so much to undermine Mitt Romney last year.

Here’s what he said about how it happened:

The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.

When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate. Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.

One of them had brought along a Canon camera. He set it on the bar and hit the record button.

The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

As Huffington suggests, Obama owes Clinton on this one…

Looks like Tom Davis regrets not running in 1st District

While we’re speculating whether Tom Davis will change his mind and run against Lindsey Graham after all, it looks like Tom himself is sort of regretting that he didn’t run for the 1st Congressional District. Here’s his reaction, on Facebook, to the campaign’s descent into cultural wedge issues:

Two days ago in SC 1st district GOP primary, it was creationism, now it’s gay marriage. Ridiculous. Obsession with using the coercive power of the federal government in such “social conservative” matters is inconsistent with the principle of limited and constitutional government. I wish one of the candidates had answered the gay-marriage question like this: “I oppose federal government efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman, and my personal belief is that marriage should be between a single man and a single woman. But I also oppose federal government efforts to define marriage as only the union between a single man and a single woman. The federal government has only those powers delegated to it in the constitution and defining what constitutes a marriage is not one of them.”

Grooms jumps into Culture Wars with both feet

Larry Grooms has apparently decided that Kulturkampf is the way to differentiate himself from the rest of the Gang of 16 in the GOP primary for the 1st Congressional District:

Charleston, SC – In a political shocker last night at the College of Charleston Forum – not one Republican up on stage stood up and supported traditional marriage being between one man and one woman.

In fact, the Post and Courier this morning, published an article titled, “1st Congressional District Candidates Speak Up on Gay Marriage, Other Issues,” and it exposed the candidates’ decidedly liberal position on marriage.

For example, Teddy Turner, Jr.’s newly found conservatism apparently doesn’t include protecting social issues like marriage. Turner said, “I don’t think social issues should be a federal issue.” Candidate Tim Larkin said, “…This is a South Carolina Republican telling you the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It’s wrong.” Candidate Elizabeth Moffly said she didn’t think Congress should legislate morality or what goes on behind closed doors. Candidate Peter McCoy said, “When it comes down to the government telling somebody how to get married … I think the government has zero role in it.”

Even self proclaimed conservative, former Governor Mark Sanford didn’t refute the others – and now we know why – because at the Forum, Sanford refused to be clear on the issue too.

To view the article, click the following link:

Conversely, Larry Grooms was about 90 miles away at a Tea Party Forum in Bluffton – defending social issues like life and marriage. When asked about the Republican Party hemorrhaging demographics – Larry pointed out that Hispanic voters and African American voters care deeply about social issues – and abandoning life and marriage would hurt Republicans with those groups and not help.

Today, Larry issued the following statement about the lack of support for marriage at the College of Charleston forum last night:

Larry Grooms said, “I firmly believe marriage is between one man and one woman – and I will fight to defend traditional marriage against every attack. Quite frankly, I’m appalled that the other candidates refused to stand up for traditional marriage. But I’m not surprised. My opponents have sure talked a good conservative game, but now everyone can see, the others just won’t be as conservative as they say they will. And last night’s forum proves my point.

But whether it’s social issues, government spending issues or government waste issues – voters can trust me to stand in the gap for conservatism because I’ve got a record of doing just that.

If these other candidates can’t be conservative at a College of Charleston forum, then how can you trust them to be conservatives in the face of other Congressional members or Congressional leadership or this President?”

Larry Grooms has received various awards fighting for social issues including:

  • Legislator of the Year, South Carolina Citizens for Life
  • Senate Legislative Champion Award, Palmetto Family Council




SC Dems and Medicaid expansion: Why is common sense a minority position in SC?


You may have read Adam Beam’s story in The State over the weekend about SC House Democrat’s proposal to at least take the three years of free Medicaid expansion that the Feds are offering:

COLUMBIA — Imagine someone offered to give you $4.1 billion over three years, and if you did not take it, your neighbors would get the money instead.

That is the situation South Carolina is in with the federal government, according to S.C. House Democrats who are pushing for the state to expand Medicaid – the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

The money is not really free, Republicans counter. After three years, South Carolina would have to start paying part of the cost of expanding Medicaid – anywhere from $613 million to $1.9 billion by 2020 – depending on a number of variables.

That’s why Monday, the day that the S.C. House begins debating the state’s $22.7 billion budget, Democratic lawmakers are going to propose an amendment that would accept federal money for the first three years of the Medicaid expansion – when the feds would pay 100 percent of the cost – and, then, automatically end the expanded program…

Well, today, the House Dems held a press conference to talk further about their proposal. The reasons were the usual: It makes no sense to turn down something that won’t cost the state anything for three years, especially when it addresses a critical need. It makes no sense for those of us who have insurance to be paying more to underwrite the most expensive kind of care for people who don’t have coverage. And of course, they hit the angle that it’s the decent, moral, compassionate thing to do.

As for the claim that expansion will cost a couple of billion by 2020, the Dems expressed polite contempt for journalists who would pass that on without investigating its veracity. Gilda Cobb-Hunter called the claim “specious at best.”

I’ll let the number-crunchers sort that out. My point in writing about this is to say that everything the Democrats said today not only made perfect sense, but should be perfectly obvious.

And I have to wonder — why has such a common-sense proposal become a minority position in South Carolina? Because don’t fool yourselves — SC Democrats have little chance of having their way.

Four years ago, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly thought Mark Sanford had lost his mind when he wanted to let stimulus money that was going to be spent anyway be spent elsewhere instead of in South Carolina. And they were right.

Now, the standard GOP position is to turn down this program, just because it has the name “Obama” attached to it.

What’s wrong with us in South Carolina?


Familiar names crop up as potential Graham opponents

The Twitterverse is still buzzing over Lindsey Graham’s criticism of Rand Paul’s filibuster last week, as the über-libertarian wing of the GOP desperately seeks a Great Right Hope to oppose him in next year’s primary.

How desperate are they? Well, they were floating Lee Bright‘s name last week.

Since then, other names have emerged. Tom Davis — again — and Nancy Mace. You’ll know Nancy as the first woman to have graduated from The Citadel, and more recently as a PR and web design consultant, and Will Folk’s partner in his well-read blog (Will handles content; Nancy handles the technical side).

Buzzfeed initially reported the news about Nancy:

WASHINGTON — The first woman to ever graduate from the Citadel — who is also the co-owner of a controversial South Carolina political blog — is weighing a primary challenge to Senator Lindsey Graham in 2014, two Republican sources suggested Saturday.

Mace, Nancy

Nancy Mace

Conservatives have long mulled a challenge to Graham, seen in some circles as too establishmentarian for the state’s conservative grassroots, and allies of Senator Rand Paul — whose filibuster last week Graham denounced — hope State Senator Tom Davis, who backed Paul for president, will enter the race. But another conservative candidate could be Nancy Mace, best known in local political circles as the partial owner of FITSNews, whose name is short for “Faith In The Sound” after a George Michael lyric and which has for several years served as the center ring of the state’s sometimes hallucinatory political circus.

“She’s got an inspirational personal narrative, a gorgeous young family, the right ideological mooring and all sorts of political connections. Oh, and her name fits nicely on a 4X8,” FITSNews founding editor Will Folks said in an email. “Obviously I’m a little biased, but there’s a lot to like about her as a potential candidate in the event Tom Davis decides to stay out of it.”

In a separate email, Mace didn’t rule out a run, though she downplayed its likelihood…

Meanwhile, Will had reported that his former fellow Sanford staffer, Sen. Davis, was rethinking his decision not to run.

Between the two possibilities, the one that seems more likely is that Tom would run, and Nancy would help run his campaign — since the senator is one of her clients.

Is Graham helping or hurting himself for 2014?

Of course, that depends on which of his many actions you choose to focus on. As I noted in my last post, our senior senator went back and forth between hugging and slapping Barack Obama yesterday.

National Journal asserted yesterday that “Lindsey Graham Isn’t Acting Like a Worried Man,” citing “demographics and a tea-party fade:”

At the height of tea-party fever in spring 2010, Sen. Lindsey Graham walked out of talks on a bipartisan climate-change bill, saying he was angry about Democratic plans to move first on comprehensive immigration reform. It almost seemed like he was anticipating a hypothetical, hyperconservative primary challenger more than four years before his reelection race.

But now the South Carolina Republican is in the thick of bipartisan talks on immigration reforms that include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants; making overtures on a fiscal “grand bargain” that would include higher taxes along with entitlement trims; and praising President Obama for reaching out to him and others in his party. On Wednesday, Graham held a press conference to announce a bipartisan bill to strengthen mental-health provisions in gun background checks. He also attended Obama’s dinner party with Republicans at a Washington hotel. In fact, Graham drew up the guest list…

In 2010, Graham’s pal John McCain tacked hard right to fend off a tea-party challenger in Arizona. In 2012, Orrin Hatch did the same to survive in Utah. Graham could eventually back away from some of his bipartisan projects, and some skeptical Democrats expect he will. But for now he is gambling that changing times and his own political skills will keep him safe in 2014. And for now he is in a commanding position in his party. Among self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents in a Winthrop University poll last month, he was at 71.6 percent approval.

Not surprisingly, no strong primary challenger to Graham has emerged. The antitax Club for Growth is keeping an eye on the race and will consider getting involved if a viable candidate surfaces, says spokesman Barney Keller. Graham scored 72 percent in the Club’s 2011 report card, close to what the group considers a “bottom-of-the-barrel” Republican. But he did better in 2012 and “obviously you can’t beat someone with no one,” Keller says. GOP consultants in the state predict Graham will have an opponent, but probably a weak one.

That reckoned, however, without the reaction to Graham and John McCain criticizing Rand Paul’s filibuster, which Politico says led to “Lindsey Graham’s very bad day on Twitter:”

Laced throughout the thousands of tweets cheering on the filbustering Kentucky Republican was a vicious, visceral anger aimed squarely at the South Carolinian up for reelection next year.

The rallying cry hashtag: #PrimaryGraham.

Of course, a couple of things stand in the way of Graham being in serious trouble: First, there’s the lack of an opponent, since Tom Davis said he wouldn’t run. Then, there’s that $6 million Lindsey’s sitting on. Politico quoted Wesley Donehue about that:

One name that surfaces regularly as a likely primary challenger is state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg. His name was floated again by callers on Glenn Beck’s radio show Thursday, and although he’s undeclared, sources say he already has a campaign manager in place.

What may be holding him back is money. Graham has a war chest in excess of $6 million, which South Carolina-based GOP digital strategist Wesley Donehue said “goes a long way in our cheap media markets.” Donehue doubts the anti-Graham flare-up over Paul’s filibuster will last long because “there is no one for the pissed-off Internet crowd to give money to.”

Lee Bright? Really?

It’s about time these people started sitting down together

Lindsey Graham had a busy day yesterday in his complicated relationship with Barack Obama. He complained about the administration’s plans to try Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law in federal court, called the expansion of Medicaid “disastrous,” trashed Rand Paul and defended the president’s drone warfare, and complimented the president on a nice dinner the previous evening.

I had heard Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., say on the radio that he and other GOP senators had a good discussion, and a good dinner, at the White House Wednesday night. Graham elaborated on that in a release:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement after meeting with the President:


“Last night’s dinner with President Obama and my Republican colleagues was productive and substantive.  I hope it will serve as the beginning of a new, long-overdue paradigm where people in elected office actually begin talking to each other about meaningful issues.


“The discussions with the President about our long-term budget problems were candid and differences in philosophy were apparent.  However, also apparent was common ground on how to move forward.


“One thing I am certain of — the perpetual campaign will not solve the nation’s problems.


“Finally, I shared with my colleagues there is no dishonor in trying and failing to solve big problems.  The long-term budgetary problems we discussed last night have defied bipartisan solutions for far too long.  I’m ready to try to solve the serious, long-term budget problems our country faces and can accept failure as an outcome.  But I cannot accept not trying.”



Then, on Thursday, the president had Paul Ryan over for lunch.

You know what? It’s about time. What I’d like to know is, why weren’t these kinds of meetings going on long before now? Graham was right to say that it’s sad that something like this makes news.

MedicAID, Larry, not MedicARE. There’s a difference…

Note: After this post was published, the Grooms campaign sent out two corrections. The first did not  correct the “Medicare” mistake. The second, at 4:52 p.m., did. The original release moved at 4:18 p.m.

Just got this, about 14 minutes ago, from Larry Grooms’ campaign for the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District:


Charleston, SC – Republican State Senator and Candidate for Congress Larry Grooms issued the following statement today about State Senator Vincent Sheheen’s desire to expand Medicare in South Carolina:

State Senator and Candidate for Congress Larry Grooms issued the following statement:

“There is no question the federal governments desire to expand Medicare is a horrible idea for South Carolina and this nation.  I stand firm with Governor Nikki Haley on this issue and will continue to fight against this massive federal government overreach.

I was deeply concerned to see Senator Sheheen’s comments today about his desire to expand Medicare – but I wasn’t surprised.  What he and President Obama can’t seem to grasp is that we are on a path to bankrupting this state and nation. In fact, if Sen. Sheheen and Barack Obama have their way, in three years South Carolinians will owe almost 2 Billion dollars to the federal government.   This is a deplorable and quite frankly, immoral thing to do to the people of this state.

I, for one, will stand firm with Gov. Haley and will continue to push my colleagues in the South Carolina Senate to do the same. If elected to Congress, you better believe I’ll take the fight for fiscal sanity to Washington so that Governors like Nikki Haley will never be faced with such a ridiculously harmful proposition.”


I added the boldface on the “Medicares.”

Um, Larry — I just checked. Sheheen hasn’t said anything about expanding Medicare. Perhaps you’re thinking of Medicaid. I’m not aware that the governor has taken any particular stand on Medicare lately, either. But she is standing against expanding Medicaid…

To help you out, Larry, here’s a story from Adam Beam about what Sheheen did say today, headlined “Sheheen endorses expanding Medicaid.”

Hoffman: Another TV ad from the 1st District

Looked at from this distance, the contest for the 1st Congressional District GOP nomination has looked like a case of Sanford sitting atop the name-recognition hill, and Larry Grooms exerting the most energy trying to take it from him.

A third candidate I keep hearing from (and let me remind you that my perspective is skewed by the fact that I keep hearing from this guy and Grooms; others could be running just as hard but not making the effort to let me know about it) is Jonathan Hoffman.

No, I hadn’t heard of him, either, so of course he’s running a standard “I’m not a politician” campaign. To the extent that is appealing, he certainly has an advantage over Sanford and Grooms.

But this new TV ad tells me next to nothing. It shows him in uniform, and I thank him for his service. It shows him with the last Republican president. He uses the word “conservative” only once in 30 seconds, which by Republican primary standards shows extraordinary restraint. Of course, he uses other phrases that suggest such values to the base, such as “small business owner.”

And he makes the usual dubious claims that Republicans in SC tend to believe as gospel, such as:

  • He wants to be elected “to take on out-of-control spending and the growth of government.” Compared to what absolute measure, I find myself wondering. It’s interesting to contrast this belief to what I read this morning in the libertarian Economist, which, after asserting that “By most measures Mr Obama’s positions have been rather moderate,” notes that the public now is in a more conservative mood: “The conservative idea that spending must be cut is taken for granted, even though government spending is already lower in America than in most advanced economies.” Did you catch that? Looked at from outside, the U.S. government is not some out-of-control behemoth. It is only that to people who choose to believe it is.
  • Then there’s this chestnut: “let’s get back to constitutionally limited government.” Something that, of course, we’ve never left. He doesn’t have to explain what he means because no on in the GOP base would challenge him on it. Me, I want details. Back during the Bush administration, Democrats would say this very same silly thing. They were usually referring to the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 measures that Democrats as well as Republicans voted for and legally passed, under lawmaking provisions of our, ahem, Constitution. Now, Republicans generally mean something like Obamacare. Which, according to the GOP-appointed Chief Justice and a majority on the Supreme Court, is constitutional. Or is he referring to killing U.S. citizens with drones and without the benefit of due process? If so, I’d like to hear him square that with is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush in fighting the Global War on Terror, which the current president is only guilty of pursuing a tad more aggressively than his predecessor, casting drones far and wide and putting boots on the ground in the very heart of Pakistan.

Mind you, I’m not being critical of Mr. Hoffman. He’s not doing a thing that pols of both parties don’t do in this ridiculously facile medium, the 30-second ad. It would be practically impossible for him to answer the questions he raises in my mind within that format.

But these ads aren’t meant to answer questions. They are meant to communicate, in the most minimalist, Gestalten flicker, a set of emotions along the lines of “he’s like me,” or “I trust that man.” So they deal not in facts, but in presumptions, ones that are shared, even if they fly in the face of reality.

Grooms’ ads are the same. Sanford’s go a bit farther, because so much is known about him, and some of what is known is problematic and has to be addressed. But it is of course addressed in the most emotional, simplistic kind of way, merely communicating, “You must not hold it against him.” Why? Because “I trust that man, despite all.”

But it is on these extremely thin, grossly inadequate bases that we decide elections in this country.


Of COURSE Sanford wanted Jenny to run his campaign…


The quirks of SC politics continue to fascinate national media.

The most recent edition of Slatest leads with Mark Sanford having wanted Jenny to run his congressional campaign.

Personally, when I heard that a week or two ago, I really didn’t think much of it. I was like, Of course he wanted her to run it; he has no clue how to run for office without her telling him what to do.

Jenny was always the brains in that outfit. Here’s my favorite anecdote illustrating that, which I’ve  probably already told here before…

Early in the process of running for governor — probably in late 2001 or early 2002 — Sanford asked to come see the editorial board and tell us about his economic proposals (in a nutshell — reduce or eliminate the state income tax). Fine, we said. So when he came, Jenny came with him. I went down to greet them in the lobby, and Jenny handed me a basketful of cookies (message: I’m not Hillary). I was sufficiently nonplussed that I thanked her, then handed them back to her. Which wasn’t very gracious of me; I just wasn’t prepared to be presented with cookies (to which I’m allergic, anyway).

So I led them upstairs, Jenny still carrying the cookies. When we got to the boardroom and sat down and started the meeting, Mark said something like, “Jenny’s going to make the presentation; this is her plan, after all.” And she, having ditched the cookies somewhere along the line, proceeded to run us through a Powerpoint presentation.

Another anecdote, illustrating the way she ran his campaigns with an iron hand… I forget who told me this; it was probably either Tom Davis or Kevin Hall…

Anyway, they were running that same campaign out of the Sanfords’ Sullivan Island house. Whenever Jenny was mad at someone in the campaign and wanted to have a private chat to unburden her mind on the subject, she would have that campaign staffer meet her in a secluded part of the house. I think it was near the backdoor or something. Anyway, there was a rack for multiple hats on the wall in that location, loaded with the boys’ baseball caps and such.

Thus, when one campaign worker told another he’d been “taken to the hats,” it was understood that he was in the doghouse for the moment.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a Sanford campaign without Jenny, so his request is understandable on one level. The other thing to understand is what Josh Voorhees of The Slatest intuited: “that Mark Sanford still hasn’t figured out how personal relationships work.”

Anyway, the subject was brought up by this profile of Sanford in New York magazine, if you’d like to go read it.