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S.C. as Romney Country?

Smitten with the Mitten in S.C.

By Joel Achenbach
CHARLESTON, S.C., 3:35 p.m. -- Alfred Pinckney waits in the cold by the old jail on the harbor. The jail is now an office building, but it's still on a spit of land scraped by a harsh wind, and a hundred or so citizens are trying to disappear into their clothes as they scan the horizon for some sign of the MittMobile. Pinckney, a financial planner who says he's 60-something, has deep roots here as one of the many Pinckneys of South Carolina, folks who count two signers of the Declaration of Independence among their kin.

"Conservatives haven't voted yet," he says.

Real conservatives, he means. Not the mushy-squishy-gooey conservatives you find up north. In South Carolina there are a lot of folks, such as Pinckney, who find it hard to forgive John McCain for his various apostasies as a Republican. "McCain-Feingold. Need I say more?" says Pinckney.

He sees a chasm between the country's two major political parties.

"The Democrat-Republican divide is huge. It's a cultural war. The Northeast is on an island from the rest of the country."

South Carolina is now its own island of sorts, the most important piece of turf in American politics for at least three more days, after which it will likely be slotted as a red state and completely ignored in the general election campaign.

Romney has for the most part been an odd man out here in a contest that has centered on John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson (who has finally found a state that suits him). But Romney's on fire, at least to the extent that such a cool customer ever heats up. If Michigan gives him a bump here, he can pick up some delegates - and he's quite frank about being a delegate-hog, someone who only secondarily cares if he comes in first in any given primary. How often do you hear a presidential candidate say, "I'm looking to rack up the delegates I need to win the nomination"? He should get a new nickname: "Rack 'em Romney."

His approach, downplaying South Carolina, may be pragmatic given that he says a "strong" fourth place would be a good finish here. And perhaps he sounds petulant when he says, "Most people keep forgetting Wyoming" (Governor, that's because no one else campaigned there, and the entire state has less than half the population of Fairfax County). But Romney still gives the overall impression of being on a roll, showing no sign of fatigue, and fairly bouncing along as he shakes hands, meets with reporters, and, here on the harbor in Charleston, gives a mercifully brief stump speech to his shivering supporters.

"This is the most animated I've seen him. The adrenaline is working now," says Tommy Hartnett, a former congressman who has come to the harbor to clap for Romney.

Mark Taylor, 47, a Charleston businessman, says he's likes the business experience of the former governor: "He's the Ross Perot of '92 without all the weirdness."

McCain, however, has had a surge here since New Hampshire, several voters tell me.

"Because McCain says it the way it is," says Tom Torpey, 63, a retiree in Sun City. "He's a man's man."

"I'm picking McCain, but I don't think it's over. I've lost plenty of bets," says sandwich shop owner Danny Tighe.

Ross Glatzer, 61, a software executive, is going for Romney: "He really comes off as the CEO of this country, not just the president of this country..

Eileen Heagy say she just wants someone fierce: "I want tough people who are going to protect us, not liberals who are going to kowtow."

The terrorists want the liberals to win, she says.

"The liberals are going to continue to be nice. We don't need a nice president. We need a tough guy."

By Washington Post editors  |  January 16, 2008; 5:07 PM ET
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Posted by: Tammy Hodge | May 13, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney is our only chance to not only win the Presidential election, but have the best results. Clinton and Obama never ran anything, don't think either one is strong on economics. Clinton and Obama want open borders, proven fact the American citizens do not. The Liberal media and the Dem's would love McCain to win, because they know he can not win, the Republican base will not support him. What will the Democratic candidates do when November comes and the iraq war is under control. That is their only issue. Vote for Mitt Romney he is strong on Economics, strong on Military, strong on immigration. He is a proven leader.

Posted by: floridagirl | January 18, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse


the only thing I know for sure about Romney, is that he'll say & do anything to be Prez. that Reps would vote for him anyway, says a lot about their desperation.
and the fact that Reps would support a flip-flopper now, when they use to tear Dems for that reason is very disingenuousness, seems very double-standardish, but I guess its ok, cause he says he's conservative & we all know we can trust his word, wink wink, Mr. Massachusetts Liberal Man

Posted by: orcaoid | January 18, 2008 1:01 AM | Report abuse

There's an elephant in the room but some folks just don't get it:

Posted by: drnewknee | January 17, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, I think you could be one of the few people in the world who might be able to talk me out of voting Democrat if McCain isn't the candidate.

Posted by: PBL4 | January 17, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse


That's very good news for John, but it certainly does not mean that Romney / Huckabee supporters are deluded -- November is a long ways away -- if you get a chance, look up what the "polls" said about Bill Clinton's chances vs. Bush 41 on January 17, 1992 (keep in mind that Bill had not yet won even one primary by then ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that Mitt or Huck have even A CHANCE in the general election is terribly deluded. The Dems will TEAR HIM APART. New national poll numbers on potential general election matchups:

Obama (D) 43%, McCain (R) 42%
McCain (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 45%
Obama (D) 54%, Huckabee (R) 31%
Clinton (D) 49%, Huckabee (R) 40%
Obama (D) 57%, Romney (R) 27%
Clinton (D) 50%, Romney (R) 39%
McCain (R) 48%, Edwards (D) 40%
Edwards (D) 48%, Huckabee (R) 33%
Edwards (D) 50%, Romney (R) 34%

In a general election matchup, John McCain destroys Edwards, beats Hillary and is extremely competitive and within the margin of error with Obama. No other GOP candidate comes within even 9 points of beating a democrat. Huckabee loses all 3 elections by an average of 16 points, and Romney loses by a whopping 19 points on average.

A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for HilEdBama. That's why the liberal establishment in Michigan was pushing Democrats to vote for Romney. But, hey. I'm sure these facts are just "liberal media propaganda". Feel free to reject reality and substitute your own. While you're at it, pass me some of what you're smoking.

When you finally wake up and stop deluding yourself, vote for John McCain.


Posted by: PBL4 | January 17, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I just read the comment about McCain "propping up" Huckabee. Who comes up with this stuff? Earlier this week, someone else said that Fred Thompson was "McCain's attack dog." I mourn the death of meaningful and civil discourse in a political campaign. I for one am tired of innuendo and falsehood.

Posted by: b.aller | January 17, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: ALMANOJODO | January 17, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse


Good point. I think Romney would be a lot better off if he just used the traditional F-bomb like Huckabee's campaign manager. I mean we all want somebody who knows how to cuss up a storm because that is a good sign of leadership.

Posted by: rigma345 | January 17, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Romney is the Republican answer to Clinton. Both utterly lack a moral compass: both will say anything to get elected. Romney proved this in Michigan by promising to bail out the auto industry. A true conservative would leave their fate to the free market. Romney was anything but conservative in Massachusetts - look at the record: gay marriage and universal health care. He is trying to buy this election: he has spent over $20 million of his own money for the job. He out-spent McCain in Michigan by better than 2 to 1 and out-spent Huckabee by almost 20 to 1 in Iowa.

Posted by: b.aller | January 17, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, golly, darn, gee whiz. Why is when Romney speaks he reminds me of Eddie Haskell of " Leave it to Beaver" fame.
I think his personality is the perfect fit too. There are many parallels to be drawn between Haskell and Romney .Romney has a nasty habit of getting caught in a web of denial and all kinds of squirming about. He is a natural schemer and is about as sincere as a dance hall girl. I think he has a serious Eddie Haskell complex.
As governor of Massachusetts's he had a dismal record of "raising fees" instead of "increasing taxes" ( a transparent scheme to avoid being labeled as one who raised taxes). He was even nicknamed "fee fee"
by his constituents . "Gosh, you think raising revenues by putting fees on every activity just like taxes ?, sorry Mrs Cleaver,at least I did not raise taxes"

Golly, wow , gee, darn, They caught me.

Posted by: eSPO1 | January 17, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Correction needed:

Signers of the Declaration of Independence by state:

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge
Thonas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton
Thomas Heywood, Jr.

Posted by: laloomis | January 17, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I do not personally KNOW Mr.Romney,but I do know quite a few folks who do.They are,not surprisingly,all LDS.They don't all love him,think he is cuddly or even that nice.BUT,as compared to the rest of the field several things do stand out.He is simply,clearly,plainly,undeniably,the most qualified,the most spotless of reputation,of the entire field.When I hear or read mindless,ignorant religious bigotry directed at Mitt to show he should be disqualified purely because of his membership-well-they just show their own idiocy.What is seldom mentioned is that his experience as a church leader really is an important part of WHY he would make a great president.Being a LDS bishop,then a "Stake President" are great executive training.They are tough jobs,drawing on every part of the person you are in the service,selfless service to others.The Post should follow a stake president in the DC area around for a weekend,just to see what I mean.

Posted by: kodiac | January 17, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Although Romney can and does use his own money, he also has effective fundraising. Before Micigan he went to Boston for a day and raised a quick $5 m. I am on his lists.
One problem with McCain's straight talk is that he can be wrong and adamant as in global warming and claims that commuity colleges create jobs.
As for the Michigan bailout, the government and others killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Pols drain the lifeblood out of companies while claiming to be for the workers. Obviously, Detroit is starved for capital, as the venture capitalist said, and he recommended a small fraction of the levees it has sent Washington, over the years.

Posted by: clairesolt | January 17, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

ROmney is the only candidate that I want to vote for. He has spoiled the rest of the candidates. None of them compare to Romney who would keep this country competitive economically and make us proud. I agree with his optimism and I am impressed by his track record and education.

Posted by: poliscistudent | January 17, 2008 2:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that the fact that Mitt Romney is a rich guy and uses his money should make him some kind of smuck or something. Why would he spend up to $20,000,000 of his own money unless he really thought he could bring conservative change to Washington. Besides, his high spending balances the under-coverage of his campaign by the corrupt (and liberal) media.

Mitt Romney has won 2 first places and 2 second places. He's also leading in the delegate count! Where's the media coverage on that??? After Michigan conservatives (over %60 of them) told the world that Romney was their man, I wouldn't be surprised if true conservative Republicans in Nevada and SC follow suit.

..Anyways, that's my two bits.

Posted by: austinyoung8 | January 17, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Peanut Butter And Jelly for Lunch @ 4:00P.M.,

It's obvious to the world the you resent either rich people, mormons, and or both. First, not all rich people are bad, and some have actually worked their tails off to get to that level. Second, I have grown up around mormons all my life and I believe that they are good people. Some of them are my neighbors and coworkers. You step way beyond what you can handle when you start getting into a religion you obviously know nothing about.

Posted by: rigma345 | January 17, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse


Huckabee was the Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 -- two years of Tucker's term, and two full terms elected on his own, which is still more than twice as much as Romney's one term -- not four terms as I thought above.

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Really?! McCain is "propping" up Huckabee -- yeah, that explains why Mike is ahead of John in the delegate count . . .

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

My friends who work for McCain's campaign tell me that Huckabee is McCain's "useful idiot" who he only propped up to take down Romney.

Posted by: slr383838 | January 16, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse


You are aware that Romney can mathematically lose South Carolina and still get enough delegates, right? How do you know he was not referring to an INTERNAL campaign poll?

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, PBL4. As for all conservatives, I can't speak for all of them -- are there some who are looking forward to another Great Depression?

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone in the media pickup on Romney's latest lie today? Romney argued that he was running in fourth in South Carolina, in an obvious attempt to frame expectations. The only problem, there isn't a SINGLE poll that puts Romney in fourth, in fact EVERY SINGLE ONE has Romney a competitive third. Will the media allow a fall to fourth to be framed as a good result? Or, will Romney try to make a possible third look like a victory? Will the media allow Romney to run to an uncontested state, Nevada, and claim the "gold"? South Carolina is the showdown, the chameleon doesn't get to choose his fate, or does he?

Posted by: steve_valeriote23 | January 16, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, JakeD, thanks for answering my question.

I also want to know why, if Romney is such a good conservative, did he promise to dump a $100 billion bailout into Detroit's auto industry?

Posted by: PBL4 | January 16, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

He is a strong social conservative.

Posted by: deseret | January 16, 2008 06:30 PM

Our Mormon honeybee friend here claims Romney is a "strong conservative". If Mitt Romney is such a strong conservative, then while governor of MA, why was he pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-state benefits for illegal immigrants, pro-taxation of SUVs, pro-McCain-Feingold, and why did he raise taxes? If he was so economically sound, then why was the economy of MA horribly stagnant under his watch?

Willard Mitt Romney is a two-faced flake who talks out of both sides of his mouth. He's the Bill Clinton of the Republican party.

Posted by: PBL4 | January 16, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse


Did that answer your question at least? There's nothing inherently wrong with being rich IMO.

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse


How can Romney have "more executive experience than any candidate" when he was Governor for one term and Huckabee was Governor for 3 terms?

Thank for admitting that Huckabee is a nice guy, but I'm still hard pressed to figure out how any SOUTHERN BAPTIST preacher (not one of those renegade, liberal Baptists like Carter) won't be a strong social conservative.

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Romney's not taking a salary if he gets elected?

Well, since he's rich enough to buy the election himself, (and he is) I guess he can afford it.

Posted by: PBL4 | January 16, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Romney won and has been at the top of every primary, because he is the ONLY well-rounded conservative with a chance on winning the presidency. Here's why:
He has more executive experience than any candidate.
He is a strong social conservative.
He has vision for change
He can turn around other mistakes made prior to his taking the Job. (Bain Capital, Olympics, MA. Huge deficit, Big Dig Fiasco, and he'll do the same in Iraq)
Huckabee is a nice guy... so is Jimmy Carter
Mccain is a great american but he continually pals around with Kennedy, Lieberman, Feingold etc..
Be Smart. Look at the Facts.


Posted by: deseret | January 16, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

If you are unaware of the speech I am referring to, see the thread below re: Mitt Romney with one of his inspirations, former President George H.W. Bush, before his Romney's address on "faith in America":

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse


Romney has pledged to not take a salary as President, so I think the answer is no. Unless you were referring to some other "taxpayer dollars"? Have you seen and/or read the "JFK Speech" he gave last year at College Station?

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

South Carolina, Do you LIKE your standard of living? How does it compare to 1985? What do you think has the biggest influences on your wages and opportunities? Your Communities?
Don't get me wrong, I am talking about the Invasion of Un-documented, often Illegal Workers. BUT, they are the symptom, not the ailment! The Federal Government's blind eye, under such "Chumpions" as McClown, have ALLOWED criminals to ovoid payrolling and contributing Taxes on their employees while dumping the medical costs and Family Related expenses off on your communities, while NOT paying Taxes that the Communities should have been recieving!
Is it any wonder, Living Standards have dropped like wages?

MITT ROMNEY, Insists that the Garbage is going to STOP, and no Amnesty!

IF, he gets a chance to hear something I whispered, get ready for a HUGE surprise!

Hint-It is a GOOD thing, Para mi Amigos! Hard work, even though it was done through Criminal Employers, should be rewarded, not Chasticed! WE created the Job Market for Illegal Workers, don't blame them for taking advantage. I HATE the Criminal Employers who sold Legal Workers out, and Cheated Taxes!

Mi Amigos, as a Catholic know, I am actually on your side, and have thrown Senor Mittster a Bone, that might make your day!-Year!-LIFES!!!!

Posted by: rat-the | January 16, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

If Mitt Romney wins, will he use our taxdollars to pay a tithe to the Mormon Church?

Posted by: PBL4 | January 16, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul is a true conservative and also a fiscal conservative who would play by the book (the constitution).

I would vote Ron Paul if I was in S.C.:

"LA Times: Ron Paul Beats Rudy and Fred... Again" That is saying something...

Posted by: davidmwe | January 16, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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