Thursday, January 12

Betting on South Carolina

Every four years it seems South Carolina goes through this.  Presidential candidates, especially Republican ones, show up for meet and greets throughout the state wearing either blue jeans or khakis and open collars.  Told, of course, by some consultant, that us folks down South have to be catered to.  You know us hayseeds love our blue jeans.  

It is almost comedic to see some guy like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich with their casual clothes saying things like "you all."  The national media chimes right in, talking about how South Carolina has to be appealed to.  

Fair enough.  But, the negative nature of the ad campaign in the next week or so will really be uniquely South Carolinian.  Millions of dollars from Morman businessmen will flow into the Super Pac for Mitt Romney to attack Newt Gingrich and whomever else Romney's allies sees as a threat.  Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich has a Super Pac funded partially by billionaire Sheldon Adelson that promises to spend over three million dollars in South Carolina exposing Mitt Romney's business practices.  Others are certain to follow suit.  In other words, it will be political ad silly season in South Carolina from now until January 21st.  

Such is not new to South Carolina.  Outside billionaires such as Howard Rich have tried to influence Palmetto State Republican politics for years.  Some say Governors Sanford and Haley are the Governors from Rich, not South Carolina.  

As insulting as the wardrobe changes, the bad use of colloquial language, and the money from outsiders on negative ads is to South Carolinians with common sense, the truth remains such things have worked in the past in South Carolina Presidential Primaries and are likely to work again this year.  The big money from all sides in the Presidential race are betting on it.  They are betting on South Carolina being South Carolina. 

And it going to get nasty in South Carolina.  There will be an onslaught of negative ads.  There will be push poll phone calls.  There will be negative mail outs.  The next week will likely make the battle between George W. Bush and John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 look like a church social debate. 

One thing is certain though.  Win, lose or draw, Mitt Romney needs to drop the attempt at being a Southern Good Ole Boy.  At least the President can drink a Coke.  Besides, good ole boys don't wear tailored made blue jeans with their tailored made open collar button down shirt.  Those are the kind of clothes some yankee wears when he comes down here to shut a plant down and lay off people.  Besides, this Southerner likes the idea of someone wanting to be President actually wearing a tie.  It shows he takes the office seriously. After all we are not selecting someone to be the spokesman for Old Navy or the Six o'clock News weatherman, we are selecting someone to run for President of the United States.  It would be refreshing if the candidates acted like that instead of betting on those of us in South Carolina to be the embodiment of their stereotypes about us. 
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