SC campaigns: Nasty, dark, dirty, ugly, sleazy, bloody, vicious

January 11, 2012 

South Carolina is known for nice weather, beaches, golf, shag dancing, quaint historic Charleston and ... heart-ripping, soul-stomping politics.

Less than 24 hours after the New Hampshire primary ended, more than enough ink, bandwidth and airtime was spent rehashing the Palmetto State's reputation for pummeling candidates (thanks Lee Atwater).

Here's a sampling of stories with quotes just to give you an idea of the picture painted about how South Carolina treats politicians:



"The Dark Art of South Carolina Politics" -- ABC News

"Now, with six candidates still nominally in the race and less than two weeks to primary day, South Carolina in 2012 is an Atwaterian dream."



"In South Carolina, politics is a blood sport" -- The Daily Caller

"The state likes to present itself as a very friendly and genteel place, except when it comes to politics," says Fox News contributor and former Jimmy Carter pollster Pat Caddell. "There is a level of sleaze in this state in politics that is really unmatched for how dirty it is."



" 'Down And Dirty,' South Carolina Has History Of Quashing Challengers" - NPR

"That growing sense of desperation on the part of some of Romney's rival campaigns, coupled with the state's reputation for vicious campaign tactics, suggests South Carolina will be a raucous, bare-knuckle affair."



"On to South Carolina: The Nastiest Primary State" -- The Daily Beast

"This corner of the old South has always been combative and 'contrarian by nature' agrees another veteran operative, who wished to remain anonymous because he now serves a politician from a kinder, gentler state. 'It’s not by accident that the Civil War started in South Carolina," he says, nor that 'there were more revolutionary war battles fought in South Carolina than in any other state.' "



"Romney heads into the South Carolina buzz saw" -- The Washington Post

"But actually the legacy extends at least to the ante-bellum period. After Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner had attacked a fellow senator, South Carolina’s Andrew Butler for a taking a mistress, “the harlot Slavery,” a relative, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, entered the chambers and took a cane to Sumner’s head. He beat the abolitionist so badly that he was unable to return to the Senate for three years and suffered the after-effects the rest of his life. One imagines there are some modern-day Sumners in South Carolina politics, still walking in a daze, wondering what hit them in races where anonymous fliers and phone calls destroyed their careers."



"South Carolina braces for ugly whispers" -- The Washington Post (again)

" 'We have a rough-cut side to politics that really doesn’t fit with the gentle nature of the people who live here,' former S.C. governor Mark Sanford said. 'It’s going to be a free-for-all here, is my take. South Carolina has had a tragic history of Wild West campaign antics, and I don’t think that’s over.' "



"GOP prepares for a bruising South Carolina primary campaign" -- The Washington Post (again again)

" 'You hear this every time,' said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly. ' 'Primaries are a bloodbath.' 'Primaries are a bare-knuckled fist fight.' I think it’s part of the vetting process, the thick-skin-toughening process that’s part of the primary.' That’s particularly true of South Carolina, which is known for its tough Republican primaries, which in recent cycles have featured ugly whisper campaigns, push-polling operations and other behind-the-scenes efforts to take down opponents. Said Van Hipp, a former state party chairman who is neutral this year: 'If there weren’t some shenanigans going on, it wouldn’t be South Carolina.' "



"Republican rivals prepare for 'bare knuckle' fight" -- The Guardian (London)

"There is no more suitable state for the Republican scrap to get nasty. The first in the south to hit the polls, on 21 January, it has a long and deserved reputation for political dirty tricks. 'South Carolina is known as the absolute nastiest and most bare knuckles kind of place for campaigning,' said Prof Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University."



And for good measure, Chris Matthews on MSNBC had this to say while I was researching this story: "South Carolina is known for it's take-no-prisoners politics."

OK, we get it. We're mean here in South Carolina. Now, I'm going home to question my wife's motivation for giving me a foreign dinner of "spaghetti."



UPDATE: Found this headline today: "Politicians always take off the gloves in S.C."

"In South Carolina – with its tradition of whisper campaigns, automated phone calls that no one takes credit for and possibly illegal efforts to sway voters – politics is a blood sport, supported by a cottage-industry of political strategists."

Wait, it came from where? The State? My newspaper? Oh then never mind.


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