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Eight Years Later, S.C. Playing Field Favors McCain

Much of the coverage of Saturday's Republican presidential primary in South Carolina has focused on what happened in the Palmetto State eight years ago. That year, John McCain's insurgent campaign for the GOP nomination effectively came to an end after George W. Bush won the state's bitterly contested primary.

But trying to compare this year to 2000 is a waste of energy for any number of reasons, offering an incomplete portrait of the increasingly complex political landscape of South Carolina.

Let's unpack the differences between 2000 and 2008 one by one.

First and most obvious are the demographic changes that have taken place in the state over the past eight years.

Since 2000, the population of South Carolina has increased by nearly 10 percent and, between July 2006 and July 2007, the population grew by 2 percent -- making it the 10th fastest growing state in the country during that time, according to Census Bureau figures. The vast majority of those population increases -- 68 percent to be exact -- came from people moving into the state; 228,000 more people have moved into the state than have left it during that time period.

Transplanted northerners and retired military men and women have flocked to South Carolina's coast -- from Horry County (which includes Myrtle Beach) in the east to Beaufort County, which encompasses Hilton Head, in the south. Professionals, meanwhile, have settled in York County -- a burgeoning suburb of Charlotte, N.C.

John McCain
John McCain embraces an audience member during a Jan. 17 campaign event in Aiken, S.C. (AP Photo)

"All of those shifts would tend to favor a McCain-type candidacy from 2000 and opposed to a Bush type candidacy," said Jon Lerner, a Republican pollster unaffiliated in the presidential race but who handles polling for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

The demographic changes seem to have led to some political change when it comes to the sort of Republican candidate the party has chosen over the past eight years.

In 2000, Bush won because he was widely regarded as the establishment pick and also because he was seen as a committed social conservative in comparison with McCain, who became perceived as a moderate despite his fiscally conservative record.

In the intervening years, however, Palmetto State Republicans have gone in the opposite direction. There have been two high-profile statewide Republican primaries since that time: in 2002 for governor and in 2004 for Senate. Each race wound up in a Republican runoff between a candidate closely identified with social conservatives and one seen as more of a fiscal conservative. In 2002, it was Sanford versus Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler; in 2004, it was Rep. Jim DeMint vs former governor David Beasley.

Each time, the fiscal conservative (Sanford, DeMint) beat out the social conservative (Peeler, Beasley). Adam Temple, a former aide to DeMint and onetime South Carolina operative for McCain's presidential bid, predicted that the shift in voters' attitudes means that traditional wedge issues may not work as well in this year's primary. "Some of those same old issues are not going to play," Temple predicted.

[The Fix, an admitted numbers junkie, went WAY inside the numbers to compare the voting patterns of the 46 South Carolina counties over the 2000 presidential, 2002 gubernatorial and 2004 Senate primaries. Seventeen counties -- primarily along the coast and in and around Columbia -- went for Bush/Sanford/DeMint. Nine counties went for Bush, Peeler and DeMint -- many of those in the Republican-heavy Upstate that both Peeler and DeMint call home. Seven counties went for Bush/Peeler/Beasley, largely concentrated in the Pee-Dee (the east north-central part of the state), which is Beasley's political base.]

The third major change this year is the composition of the GOP field. In 2000, the race had quickly narrowed to a one-on-one fight between Bush and McCain. Heading into Saturday's race, there are four candidates playing seriously in the state -- McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson.

Of those candidates, three -- Huckabee, Thompson and Romney -- are actively competing for the social conservative/evangelical voters that made up the foundation of the Bush base in the state. Only McCain is fishing in the water of more moderate Republicans and those who think of themselves as fiscal rather than social conservatives. (McCain's rival for these voters' affections is Rudy Giuliani, who is not running a serious campaign effort in the Palmetto State.)

VIDEO | South Carolina Republicans vote in a primary this Saturday. We spent a day with GOP voters in Myrtle Beach. Many of them haven't settled on a candidate. (Ben de la Cruz/

The fracturing of the social conservative vote between Huckabee, Thompson and Romney should -- and we emphasize should -- work to McCain's benefit. He also has done considerable spadework among the party establishment in the state since 2000 and now boasts the state attorney general, the speaker of the state House and the leader of the state Senate as backers.

In sum, it's important not to let the memories of the last contentious Republican presidential primary in South Carolina (and a memorable one it was) cloud the analysis of the current state of play. Geographic changes have accrued to McCain's benefit over the last eight years, as has his work to allay voters' fears about his conservative credentials.

It's what makes McCain the favorite heading into Saturday's vote. But if we've learned anything in this election so far, it's that nothing is certain. McCain is better positioned than he was eight years ago, but like that 2000 primary he needs a win on Saturday to put him at the head of the pack.

The Post's David Broder reports from S.C. on McCain's campaign:

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By Chris Cillizza  |  January 17, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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There's a last minute effort to derail a McCain win in SC.

Giuliani supporters are trying to convince Romney and Thompson backers to vote for Huckabee in order stop a potentially crushing momentum that could take all other candidates out.

Posted by: thepoliticalpost | January 18, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

This article makes a lot of sense to me. McCain's military credentials far exceed any of the other candidates, and this in a state loaded with military bases and a history of contributing heavily to the military efforts of the country that goes all the way back to Francis Marion and never faltered. McCain also has done a lot of work in the state during his previous campaigns, and should be well-known there. His one drawback to South Carolinians will be his immigration record, because South Carolina has been hard hit by a wave of Spanish-speaking, illegal immigrants who lower wages and raise unemployment figures in a state where jobs do not come easily. Romney and Giuliani can hardly challenge McCain on this issue, though they have shown a tendency to change views when they left their sheltered lairs in the Northeast and stepped out into the rest of America. Both of them also have this aura of "Yankeeness" that will do them additional harm among the state's Republicans. They also are currently fighting each other. They will see some real damage tomorrow.
Huckabee could well pick up some ground in South Carolina. He has religious and sectional credentials that will sit quite well with South Carolinians, and I see him coming in a strong second to McCain. Thompson will settle for Huckabee's table scraps.
The other Republicans will have to hope they can just get some delegates. Ron Paul will either have to make a showing in South Carolina, or consider pulling out of the race. He should normally do well with his libertarian views and Southern background offering alternatives to a state of individualists. He might get delegates. If he doesn't, it will not look good on super Tuesday.

As for the Democrats, Clinton and Obama have called off the race war, but Clinton just might have stepped in it. Obama is going to have a lot of black support in a state where blacks make up a strong number of the Democratic electorate. She will not be happy with the results here. John Edwards speaks South Carolina's language, and he lives next door. But I can see Obama winning this, or at least splitting the vast majority with Edwards, with Clinton receiving another shock. The other Democrats will begin looking for the exits.

Posted by: bong_jamesbong2001 | January 18, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Good thread.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 17, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

It seems that if Huck prefaced what he said with "I personally think it's a horrible symbol of a bygone era that should be put away but ultimately it's not what I say that matters, it's up to the people of SC to decide. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and... ", he would have been accused of trying to have it both ways. But I can see where you can draw the conclusion that this tells you something about where his priciples and convictions lie and how he operates. That said, here is what he said at the 2007 Republican Presidential Forum at Morgan State University:
Q: Please tell me and this audience why you chose to be here tonight and what you say to those who chose not to be here tonight.
A: Well, I want to be president of the United States, not just president of the Republican Party. Frankly, I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed for our party and I'm embarrassed for those who did not come, because there's long been a divide in this country, and it doesn't get better when we don't show up. Quite frankly, for a lot of people, there's a perception that Black Americans don't vote for Republicans. I proved that wrong in Arkansas, with 48% of African Americans voting for me. But I want to make sure that the people of this country recognize that we've come a long way, but we have a long way to go. And we don't get there if we don't sit down and work through issues that are still very deep in this country, when it comes to racial divide. I'm honored to be here. I wish all of the candidates had come.

Posted by: dave | January 17, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

danran: I agree with you up to the point of "having a snowball's chance in hell of winning in November." You don't against Hillary.

Posted by: lylepink | January 17, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

danram, you sound like I did in 2000. I'll bet that with closer scrutiny of the parties' respective platforms, you might find that your views are more aligned with the Dems than with the GOP. That said, I think anyone who votes a straight ticket is an ignorant fool, redundancy aside.

Posted by: femalenick | January 17, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

danram writes
"without us the Republican Party doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning in November."

Dan, what's your take right now. Do you expect to vote GOP or Dem in Nov? Or does it depend on the nominees? Followup question: if the GOP nominates someone you don't like, will you vote Dem or stay home?

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

"It it typically not Repubs who have been voting for Mac. that was the point of the Coulter article. He does well with Dems and indies, not Rs."

That's because in Ann Coulter's world, if you aren't a raving right-wing lunatic, if you can't pass their litmus test on every single issue, then you aren't a "real" Republican.

What arrogant BS. There are plenty of people out there like me ... PLENTY! ... who register and vote Republican but who don't have a problem with gay marriage, who favor stem cell research, who favor reasonable restrictions on gun purchases, who think balancing the budget is more important than never ever raising taxes, and who don't consider the people in the other party as "the enemy". Rush Limbaugh and those of his ilk derisively call us "Jellos" or "RINOs" but without us the Republican Party doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning in November.

Posted by: danram | January 17, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"I know I will probably be accused by many of being dense, but what exactly is the problem with Huck's flag statement (other than a certain crudeness meant as humor)? My interpretation is that he meant it is a state issue to decide."

Yes, Dave, your interpretation is correct. My problem with the statement was the underlying meaning - which, to me, says he is unwilling to take a stand on what is arguably a symbol of the worst division and racism in U.S. history. States fly the U.S. & their state flags - not one that reminds people that once upon a time, thousands died because of that division. Since the union prevailed, the confederate flag should be put away once and for all.

"...but he was so funny and charming that I wanted to give him a pass."

I understand, Claudia. I'm still amused by Huckabee and expect to be continually amused while he remains in the campaign - even if I never had an intention of voting for him. He cracks me up, including the comment about locking the doors that Pamela pointed out.

But where I was cheering him on, I now want him to fall flat on his face as I don't even want anyone considering him for the vp slot - a switch for me. You see, I even think about the VP nominee since I know that person can too easily end up in the White House.

Anon wrote: "I also get a sense that there is a bit of remorse in SC about how McCain was treated last time." I hope you're right. Again, remember, each side has a 50% chance of winning in the fall so we should all care who ends up the nominee on both sides.

Posted by: femalenick | January 17, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

One can only hope and pray that the "true conservative" troglodytes in SC aren't successful in derailing John McCain's candidacy on Saturday like they were in 2000. Thanks to the great state of South Carolina, we got stuck with George W. Bush and the rest of his arrogant, incompetent crew. Our nation is worse off because of it.

John McCain is the one true great man in this race. Mitt Romney is a shameless panderer who changes his positions to suit the prevailing political winds. Mike Huckabee is a Baptist Bible-thumper with no pull ouside the evangelical set, and Fred Thompson, bless him, never could capture the public's imagination. Poor Rudy Giuliani is now almost irrelevant.

If South Carolina Republicans are serious about holding on to the White House, they will vote for John McCain. He's the only chance they've got in November.

Posted by: danram | January 17, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

confederate flag? At least the racists show they do not support america. gie them their flag. give them an island to. Let them move there if they hate their country that much. Racists love to tell people to "go back to africa/china/etc" if you don't love this country. the founding fathers made the laws. I would argue if the gop does not like freedom and diversity THEY move to africa or south america and see how far their fascist tactics get them there.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 17, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

sounds like larry craig, no? HAtes' gays, yet is secretly one. In this case, he hates terrorists but secretly is one. Hypocrite gop.

I told they were not only in with the terroriss but terrorists themselves. Will the gop finally back down now that there is proof? Time will tell. But does supporting terrorists make you one? I'm not only talkng about politicains.

"Debbie Schlussel Heartbroken Over Her Former Congressman Boss' Terrorism Conspiracy Indictment
By: billw @ 2:01 PM - PST

Debbie Schlussel, a minor-league pundit wingnut who sees Muslim terrorists around every corner and questions whether Obama should be president "when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam," went on Fox and Friends today to talk about how it could possibly be that the former Republican Congressman she used to work for was just indicted in a terrorist fund-raising conspiracy.

Download (114) | Play (153) Download (111) | Play (76)

Debbie Schlussel: I am so shocked and saddened by this. It's heartbreaking because when I worked for Mark Siljander he was probably the most anti-Islamist Congressman on the Hill. He was the one who most understood the Jihadist threat decades before 9-11 and before most people in America I think really understood the seriousness of it.

She just can't explain how it is that her "anti-Islamist Congressman" could have done what he's accused of except that he must have needed the money.

And John Cole noticed something funny about that old ID she posted.






Posted by: JKrishnamurti | January 17, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Since everyone else is putting in their two cents ont he Confederate flag issue, here's min.

There are actually two issues here which have been conflated.

Should the Confederate fly OVER the dome of a state capitol?
Correct answer: No. A flag flying over a state's executive, legislative or judicial buildings implies the government symbolized by that flag is in charge. Therefore, that IS a federal issue to a certain extent. The U.S. and (current) state flags are the only appropriate flags to fly in this position and manner.

Should the Confederate flag fly elsewhere?
Correct answer: That's up to each state. If the citizens of that state want a Confederate flag elsewhere on state government grounds, or in history museums, that should be of no overriding interest to the federal government.

Do you see the difference? I have my own (personal) opinion on the issue, but I don't live in South Carolina. Therefore, I shouldn't (nor do I want to) have any right to control what South Carolinians do UNLESS it's a U.S. (federal) issue. As soon as they removed the Confederate flag from flying over the dome, it ceased to be a federal issue, imo. Up until that point, it was.

Posted by: TomJx | January 17, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"Mac has the war going for him but little else."

Fiscal constraint no longer being a significant part of the GOP platform.

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Minn Post continues to produce unique insight into the elections. Here's one on GOP efforts (grassroots, not organizational) in his home state to swing the AZ primary away from the 'favorite son':

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Pamela - it it typically not Repubs who have been voting for Mac. that was the point of the coulter article. He does well with Dems and indies, not Rs. this is something to be wary of in conservative circles, as if his record wasn't enough.

Mac has the war going for him but little else. this is still better than any D but not better than the other Rs.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

How many other organizations like "Vietnam Vets Against McCain" will pop up with last-minute smears tomorrow? Lots of folks hat JMac down there.

Posted by: parkerfl | January 17, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

are all your posts simply a visceral, ignorant reaction to mine?

If selling newspapers on K Street means you have "clients," so be it.

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 05:10 PM

that would be a YES!

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks says:
"Now, this is going to sound pretty cynical...but I think there is a definite trend by voters to want McCain to be the Republican nominee"

I think that's right, among Dems and Independents - McCain seems to offer the most in terms of character and competence. I get the impression that there's strong support for him among the Rs on this blog as well.

Last week, with all the sniping between Hillary and Obama it felt like the wheels were coming off. Now that they've cooled that a bit, I'm less concerned, but one should never doubt the possibility for the Democrats to self-destruct yet again. If I could, since Biden is out, I'd hedge my bets and vote for McCain on 2/5. But the NY primary is closed and it's too late to change party affiliation.

Posted by: -pamela | January 17, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

""You're certainly not running for office" - true indeed, but I do have over 15 clients who are."

If selling newspapers on K Street means you have "clients," so be it.

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"You're certainly not running for office" - true indeed, but I do have over 15 clients who are. Has anyone ever paid you for your advice or wisdom? If so, they deserve a refund.

are you now in contention for 2nd jackel in drindl's pack?

"So like a bored child, you annoy and pester the grownups."

False - I seem to annoy and pester you - not the grownups.

and I ask again, because the evidence is now even stronger:

are all your posts simply a visceral, ignorant reaction to mine?
for example:
Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 04:54 PM

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

George Will pertains to your flag contraversy today:

Hillary Clinton's campaign, useful at last, has in recent days added to the nation's stock of harmless merriment. It has done so by floundering around, like a dinosaur drowning in a tar pit, with the sticky problem of being as "sensitive" as good liberals, our multicultural role models, are supposed to be.

For decades, liberals, believing that "self-esteem" is a universal entitlement that is endangered by nearly universal insensitivity, have striven to make everybody exquisitely sensitive to slights. Liberals have become industrialists as an indignation industry has burgeoned. It writes campus speech codes, infests corporations with "sensitivity training" workshops and "consciousness-raising" retreats, and generally enforces the new right to pass through this vale of tears without tears or even being peeved.......

Clinton's clanking, wheezing political jalopy, blowing its gaskets and stripping its lug nuts, has moved on from faulting Obama for a kindergarten essay (in which he supposedly revealed a presidential ambition that was unseemly around the teeter-totter) to accusing him of wanting to be reasonable, even likable. Is there nothing the man will not stoop to? ...

end Will

Liberals are always wandering around looking for things to be offended by. If you search for it hard enough, you will surely find it. especially with the clintons actively campaigning.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"John Murtha? Now there's a relevant post. Is that Che posting as zouk?"

Wow, that was "visceral and ignorant? You need to get a grip, son. Certainly easier to attack instead of admitting that a post about a Democratic congressman from PA is 100 percent irrelevant to a board about a Republican presidential primary in SC.

But I guess, like a little child, you're just bored -- because your candidate, Rudy "Florida Firewall" Giuliani has been invisible for weeks. So like a bored child, you annoy and pester the grownups.

As for spectating, what are you doing, other than posting mindless, endless, bleats and screeds? You're certainly not running for office. (That would be good for laffs, though.)

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Now, this is going to sound pretty cynical from someone committed voting for (a) Edwards and (b) Obama, if Edwards has dropped out, but I think there is a definite trend by voters to want McCain to be the Republican nominee just in case the wheels fall of before the election, so we have someone we can definitely trust. Kind of a sad commentary, but that's how I feel.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 17, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse


The modern day Confederate flag fetish grew out of resistance to the civil rights movement and Brown v Board of Education. It was used as a symbol by the segragationists under the banner of "states' rights". So, not only was it a symbol of a society fighting to retain slavery, it was adopted as a symbol of the effort to keep Jim Crow laws. Georgia put the stars and bars in its flag in 1956. I would say that the offensiveness of the flag comes from the civil rights era and its use a pro-segragationist symbol.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 17, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse


"On balance, it's like - although not as offensive as - the swastika, which even when used by bikers or skate punks still retains its original offensive message."

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 17, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Spectator _ I see that original thought is not your strong point. are all your posts simply a visceral, ignorant reaction to mine?

I guess I understand why you call yourself spectator - too fat, lazy and stupid to actually participate.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

My two cents on the Confederate flag;

It's ridiculous to say that it should be used to "honor" folks who are dead, as they will never know. They're dead. All that is important is what it means to those who are still alive... and what does it mean to them? To some - maybe the same people, "states' rights," and "identity as a white Southerner." To some, "the Dukes of Hazzard." Nothing wrong with those, but I think those meanings are trumped by those for whom it means "white supremacist," "racial hatred" (for crackers) and "slavery" (for blacks.) On balance, it's like - although not as offensive as - the swastika, which even when used by bikers or skate punks still retains So I would prefer that it not be treated with "reverence," because it doesn't really honor the dead in the way visiting a relative's grave does. Should it be illegal? In my opinion no - of course, neither is the swastika. It's just not in particularly good taste.

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

John Murtha? Now there's a relevant post. Is that Che posting as zouk?

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"Huckabee, Thompson and Romney -- are actively competing for the social conservative/evangelical voters...
What about the fact the Romney's new incarnation is his first one: Succesful Businessman Romney?"

It sounds like the only thing that has truly worked in Romney's favor is this first incarnation - successful businessman. As others have said, he has not yet been able to garner sufficient support among social conservatives. I'd expect him to get votes from establishment R's and for Thompson to finally break through (why not in this crazy year) and split the social conservative vote w/ Huck. In the end, the demographic change - and better rebuttal (i.e., truth squad) from McCain - will, as CC suggests, work in McCain's favor, but I expect it to be close.

For the Rs, I believe this is winner take all, so all McCain needs to do is prevail.

Posted by: -pamela | January 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

the liberal message:

The Pork King Keeps His Crown

The new earmark disclosure rules put into effect by Congress confirm the pre-eminence of Representative John Murtha at procuring eye-popping chunks of pork for contractors he helped put in business in Johnstown, Pa. The Pennsylvania Democrat, a power player on defense appropriations, exudes pride, not embarrassment, for delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in largesse to district beneficiaries. They, in turn, requite with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations.

Mr. Murtha led all House members this year, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. In all, eager members in both houses enacted 11,144 earmarks, worth $15 billion. Taxpayers may be inured to $113,000 for rodent control in Alaska or a million for Idaho's weed management. Mr. Murtha's universe is a far more complicated and costly creation of interlocking contractors who continue to feed at the public trough despite reviews questioning their performance.

In 1991, Mr. Murtha used a $5 million earmark to create the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in Johnstown to develop anti-pollution technology for the military. Since then, it has garnered more than $670 million in contracts and earmarks. Meanwhile it is managed by another contractor Mr. Murtha helped create, Concurrent Technologies, a research operation that somehow was allowed to be set up as a tax-exempt charity, according to The Washington Post. Thanks to Mr. Murtha, Concurrent has boomed; the annual salary for its top three executives averages $462,000.

There's been no report of Mr. Murtha's profiting personally. "This is about jobs," the congressman insists. But the Murtha operation -- which has become a model for other entrepreneurial lawmakers -- is a gross example of quid pro quo Washington. Every one of the 26 beneficiaries of Mr. Murtha's earmarks in last year's defense budget made contributions to his campaign kitty, a total of $413,250, according to the newspaper Roll Call. The Pentagon, seeking its own goodies before Mr. Murtha's committee, is noticeably hesitant to challenge his projects. And we're not hearing a lot of objections from his colleagues -- not after members have ladled out a fresh $15 billion for their own special interests, just in time for the coming elections.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I also get a sense that there is a bit of remorse in SC about how McCain was treated last time. There is an undercurrent that McCain is a good man would did deserve the dirt flung at him in 2000. IIRC, one newspaper just endorsed him and then apologized for not doing so in 2000.

Posted by: anon99 | January 17, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse


McCain said - "I don't believe their service, however distinguished, needs to be commemorated in a way that offends, deeply hurts, people whose ancestors were once denied their freedom by my ancestors,".

So my question is, since fighting for the Confederacy was, in effect, fighting for slavery, what are the proper ways to commemorate Confederate ancestors that don't deeply hurt or offend those denied their freedom? Is a private commemoration any more right or any less wrong?

Posted by: dave | January 17, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

More coulter:

"Dear Republicans: Please do one-tenth as much research before casting a vote in a presidential election as you do before buying a new car.

One clue that Romney is our strongest candidate is the fact that Democrats keep viciously attacking him while expressing their deep respect for Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

This point was already extensively covered in Chapter 1 of "How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)": Never take advice from your political enemies.

Turn on any cable news show right now, and you will see Democratic pundits attacking Romney, calling him a "flip-flopper," and heaping praise on McCain and Huckleberry -- almost as if they were reading some sort of "talking points."

end anne...

Same thing for rudy. If drindl fears him, he is good enough for me.

Proud - I don't there is any one person who speaks for ALL conservatives. - except me of course. but if book sales are any measure, Anne has it all over the pretend writers on this blog (you know who you are).

Regardless of any of the qualities of any of the R candidates, they far outshine the evil clinton criminal enterprise under any condition.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"I don't find the confederate flag amusing, either."

What is amusing is his obvious pandering in the form of faux indignation at outsiders dictating behavior. Huck said "if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

Which is hilarious imagery.

Overall the scenario reminds me of a bunch of boys in a treehouse talking tough about not obeying parental curfews anymore, then obediently scurrying home when mom rings the dinner bell.

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I've never seen so many comments on an article completely ignore the topic. As usual, where there is ignorance and blind rage it all has something to do with Ann Coulter.

But to the actual article:
I disagree the demographic changes will necessarily favor McCain. It's a good point that the additional military and professionals might come his way as well as the fiscal conservatives, but we are de-emphasizing a few important things. This is a 6 man race where it is unwise to get into an area where another candidate could split the vote with you.

On the social conservative side: Huckabee could easily steal a win here by uniting evangelicals. Just because Thompson and Romney are courting this group doesn't mean the votes are going to follow. Iowa showed huge numbers for Huckabee even though everyone was courting the evangelical vote at that time.

On the business side of things, I think you just might get a strange split. You've got some, however small, fiscal conservatives that will break for Giuliani. But, more importantly, after Romney's win in Michigan playing to economic questions mostly, he could sway many of the fiscal conservatives away from McCain. Not enough to win, but enough to ensure McCain doesn't win.

On the military side of things: McCain stands out because he is the only veteran, but it calls into question whether there is enough in this group to collect and give him a win.

Overall, I think McCain will get too much peel-off from other candidates trying for the same voters and Huckabee will pull another surprise win. Say what you want about his foreign policy and economic policies, if you're a hard-core southern evangelical you'll trust in the lord and put those other issues "in His hands". And no one has successfully split the crazy christian vote with Huckabee yet. That would be polytheism which is a sin, hahaha.

Posted by: grimmix | January 17, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Another amusing campaign note: Mount Myrtle, where Republican candidates have been immortalized in sand (sculptures):

According to the report on NPR, most of the candidates were OK with how they were portrayed, but Romney didn't like his hair. If he really wants to win, he needs to take "regular guy" lessons from Huckabee.

Posted by: -pamela | January 17, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

'I've now concluded that John McCain is the only GOP presidential candidate with any integrity.'

Indeed. there were things about Huck that bothered me, like the Dumond deal, but he was so funny and charming that I wanted to give him a pass. But he really is a theocratic radical and no can do. I don't find the confederate flag amusing, either.

We all know what it stands for and it's ugly. Not too Christian, either. Funny thing is, for a christian, huck does and says a lot ofstuff that isn't very.

Rudy -- a conservative. I wonder how large is the population of conservative drag queen/serial adulterers?

Posted by: drindl | January 17, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

dave, The Stars and bars issue has too much emotion for a rational debate. Many politicians no doubt fear that if they answered honestly, they could not win the South Carolina primary.

McCain had to make it right last time in SC..."I promised to tell the truth always about my intentions and beliefs. I fell short of that standard in South Carolina," McCain said. "While my response was factually accurate, it did not answer how I personally felt about the flag."

"My ancestors fought for the Confederacy ... but I don't believe their service, however distinguished, needs to be commemorated in a way that offends, deeply hurts, people whose ancestors were once denied their freedom by my ancestors,".

I'm a little surprised at that the former Baptist minister would not agree with this on principle. Huck seems to have compassion for certain folks only when it's convenient, I guess.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 17, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"For all that I agree with your conclusion, nick, I have to say that Huck's argument is amusing."

Every campaign needs someone like Huckabee - if only to deflate other candidates who act so self-important. And every election cycle someone says something like "what's important is to vote, regardless of who you vote for."

Huckabee has a different twist. I saw a clip of him asking supporters for their votes, and then telling those in the audience who didn't support him NOT to bother to vote. Must have been a college audience b/c he followed by suggesting that if anyone had friends who'd said they'd be voting for another candidate, well then, lock them in their dorm rooms. Amusing piece of political theater - he played it as if he was obviously kidding and it brought down the house.

Posted by: -pamela | January 17, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I know I will probably be accused by many of being dense, but what exactly is the problem with Huck's flag statement (other than a certain crudeness meant as humor)? My interpretation is that he meant it is a state issue to decide.

Posted by: dave | January 17, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Despite alleged demographic changes which might lead towards moderation South Carolina remains what it was in 1860: the home of belligerent fanatics, racists, bellicose fascistic nationalists, and religiously ignorant rednecks. This does not say much for McCain's chances.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 17, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

femalenick - Of course Huckabee is unacceptable. Everyone has known that for a long time. He is, nonetheless, honest, decent and quite often correct (as he is with regards to ending one sided "free trade" and a new Sputnik-reaction type of program to fund our schools and emphasize science and math skills). McCain is quite often wrong, too. If you think about it, it's pretty hard to find many thing you agree with him on, but the fundimental decency of that man puts him on a whole different level than any ordinary politician. There's a great artcle in todays Der Spiegel (reprinted from a NYT editorial) on this here:,1518,529171,00.html

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 17, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do"

For all that I agree with your conclusion, nick, I have to say that Huck's argument is amusing.

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"If you have more northerners and midwest folks moving in does that favor Obama or Clinton? One thing for sure is that it definitly hurts Edwards."

A small sampling, AndyR3, but the dozen military persons (all but one retired) in SC who I know will vote for Hillary. I know they exist, but I do not know anyone anywhere who likes John Edwards - "too angry" and "too out there" are the comments I hear.

Posted by: femalenick | January 17, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Pretty typical of Mann Coulter (allegedly an educated and intelligent person) to use a phrase like "baby-killing."

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Why the parties put so much stock in SC is beyond me. Anyone else wondering why SC is always the center of the ugliest politicking anywhere? Why it's there that the lowest of tactics seem to surface?

Today - reports that a group calling itself "Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain" are circulating info that JM abandoned them in Vietnam - obviously to counter his popularity among military personnel.

And Claudia, I take back that I can't help liking Huckabee. Two statements he's made in the last couple of days are scary: 1)"But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view," and 2) "'In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do,'" referring to John McCain's comment in 2000 that the confederate flag should go.

I've now concluded that John McCain is the only GOP presidential candidate with any integrity. I, for one, hope he is the GOP nominee. There remains, after all, a 50% chance that the GOP will prevail.

Posted by: femalenick | January 17, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

ImpeachNOW - re: Amnesty and illegals. Correction. Hillary Clinton, by her recent comment in Nevada, made is quite clear that she is so pro-amnesty that she doesn't even consider "illegals" (at least women) illegal. Her stance is far more radical than any other Democratic or Republican candidate.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 17, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

koz, Anne Coulter trashes Rudy with equal fervor in the same article...

"Giuliani cleverly avoids the heinous "flip-flopper" label by continuing to embrace baby-killing. (Rudy flip-flops only on trivial matters like illegal immigration and his own marital vows.)"

It seems that, once again, Coulter does not speak for all conservatives.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 17, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Huckabee, Thompson and Romney -- are actively competing for the social conservative/evangelical voters "

What about the fact the Romney's new incarnation is his first one: Succesful Businessman Romney? Since that programming produced his first big win (and the religious conversative feint didn't pan out in Iowa), won't Romneybot stick with it in S.C.? If he does, then McCain could lose to the Great Panderer the same way he did in Michigan.

Posted by: eatmesomecookies | January 17, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Spectator2 - DOn't get too happy about this. The Democrats, at all of those runnning, are as criminally responsible for this as are the Republican's. Bush is a disaster, but what makes him worse than most is his dishonesty and neocon cowboy tendency to resort to military action. As for the economy, the underlying problem is free trade. We cannot even begin to climb out of the current economic mess until we end that. And both the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership are equally responsible fools for this mess.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 17, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

To the voters of South Carolina: If you support amnesty for illegal immigrants, you have only ONE clear choice in this election: AMNESTY-JOHN McCain.

You can rest assured that after another half-hearted effort at "securing our boarders", AMNESTY-JOHN, if elected president - or otherwise - will do everything in his power to p*ss on those legal immigrants awaiting for citizenship, and immediately grant full citizenship status to all those that illegally entered our country [with the usual BS that they "learn" English ;) and pay a "fine" ;)].

Don't be fooled by cheap imitators like the Huskster - who will only use your tax dollars for more benefits for illegals, or Rudy "Sanctuary City" Giuliani, who just looks the other way whenever an illegal approaches.

So, if 1. you've always wanted to have to learn spanish, or 2. you really want your town to achieve the coveted "barrio" status, or 3. you enjoy lower wages, or 4. you want all those empty spaces in the local prison filled, or 5. you want to pay even more hospital costs for ANCHOR babies --- THEN AMNESTY-JUAN IS YOUR GRI'NGO!

¡Hurra para la amnistia!

Posted by: ImpeachNOW | January 17, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Whoever the GOP nominee is will have one small problem: Incumbent Pres. George W. Bush (R).

DJIA is now about 1,000 points LOWER than when Bush took office, for example. How much wealth has been lost since he took office?

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

welchd writes
"Florida is shaping up as a 4-way tie. There is no reason to think the candidates won't just keep divvying up the delegates."

BZZZT!!!! Welchd- Fla is a winner-takes-all state, which means there is no such thing as a 4-way tie. He who gets the most votes - which will likely be a plurality far short of a majority - gets all 57 delegates. Put in percentage terms, if there are 4 candidates in a statistical tie for first, someone might theoretically win all the delegates by collecting little more than 25% of the vote. In a real-world scenario, I'd expect the winner to earn closer to 35%; we'll find out in a few short days...

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Good analysis CC.
I think the changing dynamic of South Carolina has definitly been overlooked so far this cycle.
I am also interested in how the change in voter dynamics effects the outcome in the Democratic primary. If you have more northerners and midwest folks moving in does that favor Obama or Clinton? One thing for sure is that it definitly hurts Edwards.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 17, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Even if JMc wins SC it is not likely to result in any significant momentum, esp. if someone else takes Nevada. Florida is shaping up as a 4-way tie. There is no reason to think the candidates won't just keep divvying up the delegates. SC is no more likely to clarify the Republican nomination anymore than Iowa or NH has.

Posted by: welchd | January 17, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Re: Zouk

Do you EVER post on topic? I count 5 posts and not a single one mentions South Carolina. Incidentally, what will your explanation be if McCain does well in SC?


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I see zouk has nothing to say about his preferred candidate, Rudy "Florida Firewall" Giuliani, so he is reduced to babbling incoherently about Libs and the other GOP candidates.

Posted by: Spectator2 | January 17, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why zouk thinks anyone here would read Ann Coulter LOL. Why not just bury your head in the cat box?

Posted by: drindl | January 17, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Democratic Nevada Caucus - Prediction Time!

The road to the White House now goes through Nevada because Saturday's statewide caucuses will help to clarify presidential nomination races in both major parties.

Who do you predict will win the Democratic Nevada Presidential Caucus?



Republican Nevada Caucus - Prediction Time!

Who do you predict will win the Republican Nevada Presidential Caucus?


Posted by: PollM | January 17, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

2005 energy bill subsidies:

$4.3 billion for nuclear power
$2.8 billion for fossil fuel production
$1.6 billion for investments in coal facilities
$1.3 billion for alternative motor vehicles and fuels (ethanol, methane, liquified natural gas, propane)

Posted by: drindl | January 17, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Unluckily for McCain, snowstorms in Michigan suppressed the turnout among Democratic "Independents" who planned to screw up the Republican primary by voting for our worst candidate. Democrats are notoriously unreliable voters in bad weather. Instead of putting on galoshes and going to the polls, they sit on their porches waiting for FEMA to rescue them.

In contrast to Michigan's foul weather, New Hampshire was balmy on primary day, allowing McCain's base -- Democrats -- to come out and vote for him.

Assuming any actual Republicans are voting for McCain -- or for liberals' new favorite candidate for us, Mike Huckabee -- this column is for you.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"The fracturing of the social conservative vote between Huckabee, Thompson and Romney should ... work to McCain's benefit."

Huh? Since when is Romney attracting a significant piece of the social conservative vote? There is no doubt that he is TRYING to attract that vote - as demonstrated by his switches on social issues - but it is not clear that he is succeeding in those efforts.

Posted by: bsimon | January 17, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

infoshop - is it the Patriots?

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Wake up America! primaries are just a side show. Candidates from both parties are chosen, and the winner already picked.

Posted by: infoshop | January 17, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Definitely a stinking irony in Ds closing the vote down when they so often complain that Rs are trying to shut down the vote.

I have an engineer friend who is working on a BS meter with a feminine voice that says:

Please investigate. This comment may be BS."


"do you think this might be BS?"


"Orange BS Alert!"

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 17, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

How tragic this is:

'Fort Carson sent soldiers who were not medically fit to war zones last month to meet "deployable strength" goals, according to e-mails obtained by The Denver Post.

One e-mail, written Jan. 3 by the surgeon for Fort Carson's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, says: "We have been having issues reaching deployable strength, and thus have been taking along some borderline soldiers who we would otherwise have left behind for continued treatment."

Posted by: drindl | January 17, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Yeah right after Bush was kicked in butt for seeming to be the last man on Earth to get off the big oil bandwagon he and Dick give in to some modest proposals ..... and that is EXACTLY the opposite of Al Gore and the Liberals who have been begging the US to get itself green for decades! Why oh why do conservatives have to use such obvious DISINFORMATION to get attention? When they are wrong, wrong, and wrong again .... and lead the country into the crapper ..... they suddenly get religion on energy and act like it was their idea all along. Do they think EVERYONE is so dumb? Why do they have to lie?

Posted by: michaelptar | January 17, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

how about we ruin health care for everyone, since there are a few who don't have it.

Signed - the Libs

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The case goes before a federal judge in Las Vegas this morning. Plaintiffs argue that the caucus sites on the Strip unfairly discriminate against other workers on-duty that day. Lynn Warne, president of the teachers union, insists "our only interest is fairness." But instead of seeking additional at-large locations, they want to close down the casino sites.

the evil clintons will disenfranchise anyone who gets in their way.

interesting that as usual, the Libs will close down sites instead of opening up additional ones. Just like they make good students suffer to accomodate the lesser students and rich americans must be brought down to the poor americans level. never the other way around.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

More importanlty, will we ever get the truth out of a Liberal:

Clinton once again mischaracterized the 2005 energy bill, saying it had "enormous giveaways" to oil and gas companies. In truth, the measure raised taxes on those industries.

Obama accused the Bush administration of failing to make "any serious effort" to encourage use of alternative fuels or raise fuel efficiency of automobiles. In fact, President Bush has signed major bills that do both.

Edwards said he dropped his support for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in part because of a scandal over forged documents. But he switched his position in 2004, and the scandal came along a year afterward.

The three candidates made sweeping claims about their intentions to remove troops from Iraq quickly, but all three admitted under questioning that they could have U.S. combat troops fighting in Iraq for years to come.

Clinton puffed up her role in stopping the "Bush administration" from taking back signing bonuses from those later wounded too seriously to complete their enlistments. Actually the Pentagon said its policy has been not to reclaim such bonuses and that a bill the Army sent to one soldier was an isolated case that was reversed.

Edwards said "you should learn to speak English" before becoming a U.S. citizen. In fact, the law already requires, with few exceptions, that applicants for citizenship "must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language."

Obama gave a misleading impression of a bill he passed about soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He gave the impression his legislation fixed a broad problem of soldiers being billed for meals when in fact that had been addressed two years earlier with a bill by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. We gave Obama a Half True.

* Clinton erred when she said the 2005 energy bill "was a big step backwards on the path to clean, renewable energy." We gave that a False.

* But we found Clinton was accurately quoting John McCain's comment that the United States might have troops in Iraq for 100 years. We gave that a True.

* John Edwards got it wrong when he said Clinton gets more money from the oil and gas industry than any candidate, Democrat or Republican. Two Republicans beat her, so we gave Edwards only a Half-True.

* Barack Obama correctly said he gets more in small donations (less than $200) than Clinton or Edwards.

Maybe they'll do better at the next debate. Right. But what we really need is that instant bull detector, and quick.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 17, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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