Football is certainly a big topic among S.C. politicians. But some of those pols think politics should not be in the playbook of football coaches, as Dabo Swinney learned last week.
Last week, Clemson’s head football coach coach waved off plans to appear at a fundraiser for a Columbia-based anti-gay marriage group after protests from a state Democratic leader.
But Swinney’s swerve away from controversy will not push Clemson into adopting a policy governing the public appearances of high-profile employees, said trustees chairman David Wilkins, a former S.C. House speaker.
However, the University of South Carolina’s board chairman told The Buzz that he expects trustees to discuss how to handle appearances at potentially politically charged events when they meet Friday.
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“It’s possibly something that could be helpful,” USC trustees chairman Gene Warr said. “But we live in a country where we have the right to speak and believe in what we want.”
Whenever a coach or other USC leader speaks, it is hard to separate the school from that individual, who might have some views to share, Warr acknowledges. “We ask them to use their best judgment.”
In 2013, USC athletics director Ray Tanner accepted an award from the same group, the Palmetto Family Council, that is honoring Swinney Tuesday. As with the Clemson coach, the council was recognizing the work of Tanner’s foundation.
Tanner told the Sports Talk Radio Network last week that he did not speak at the 2013 Family Council event. Because of a scheduling conflict, Tanner said he stayed just for a brief time to accept the award.
Asked during the radio interview, the former Gamecocks baseball coach did not indicate whether he would return the Family Council’s award.
“I’m a part of a lot of different events and organizations, and very rarely do I understand any particular mission,” Tanner said. “I really didn’t look at it as a situation that was negative or would cause any controversy.”
In a statement about his withdrawal from the Family Council event, Swinney, an outspoken Christian, said he that he will continue to be open about his personal beliefs.
He has nothing to worry about from his bosses at Clemson.
Wilkins said he had full confidence in Swinney. “He did not do anything wrong.”
Wilkins said he sees “no appetite” on the Clemson board for rules governing appearances or speaking engagements before groups. “We don’t need to micromanage.”
2016 in S.C.
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor will visit Columbia and Greenville in his first S.C. visit in five months. Tuesday, Christie will attend meet-and-greets with the Richland County GOP at Liberty Tap Room and supporters at the Nexsen Pruet law office on Main Street. Wednesday, he will hold a town-hall meeting at Tommy’s Country Ham House in Greenville.
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor, a Republican, will meet Tuesday with the S.C. House GOP Caucus in Columbia.
Rick Perry: Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL featured in the movie “Lone Survivor,” will appear with the Republican during an S.C. swing after the former Texas governor announces Thursday his second presidential bid, The Buzz has learned. Perry and Luttrell will be at a June 8 event at the S.C. Military Museum in Columbia and a town-hall meeting at the USS Yorktown, outside Charleston.
Rick Santorum: The former U.S. Republican senator from Pennsylvania travels through the Upstate Sunday. He will visit Tommy's Country Ham House in Greenville and will be a judge for a food-truck competition in Travelers Rest.
Nikki Haley headlines Show Me State fundraiser
The Nikki Haley fund-raising machine returns to action next month.
The governor will headline a fundraiser for Catherine Hanaway, a Republican candidate for governor of Missouri, next month in St. Louis. (Hanaway’s campaign has not gone so smoothly with accusations that negative attacks by her supporters contributed to the suicide of one of her rivals.)
Haley will be joined at the fundraiser by William H.T. Bush, brother of former President George H.W. Bush, and retired brewing king August A. Busch III, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Clinton splits hairs in S.C.
Hillary Clinton has a battle plan for a known side-effect of being president.
"Just pull up the images in your head: All of our presidents come into office looking so vigorous,” the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner told a gathering Wednesday in Columbia. “Think about what they look like on Inauguration Day. Then, we watch them. They grow grayer and grayer and, by the time they leave, they're as white as the building they live in.
“Let me tell you, I'm aware, I may not be the youngest candidate in the race,” the 67-year-old said. “But I have one big advantage: I've been coloring my hair for years.
"Noooo! You're not going to see me turn white in the White House, and you're also not going to see me shrink from a fight."
A (concealed) weapons test
A bill that would have allowed Georgians to carry their concealed guns in South Carolina died last week after an exchange about the Peach State’s lack of a training requirement to get a permit.
State Rep. Alan Clemmons, an Horry Republican who co-sponsored the bill, told a Senate panel that it doesn’t seem fair that South Carolina, which requires training for a concealed-weapons permit, won’t accept another state’s permits because it doesn’t like how its law is written.
“We accept all states’ driver’s licenses,” Clemmons said. “We don’t second-guess Arkansas’ requirements. We accept them. Isn’t a car a dangerous weapon?”
State Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, replied: “Is there a state in the Union you can get a driver’s license without passing a test?”
Staff writer Jamie Self and the Associated Press contributed