S.C. viewers tuning in to watch convention coverage on CNN have noticed a familiar face in an unfamiliar place.
Andre Bauer — known to Palmetto State residents for his eight years as lieutenant governor, followed by runs for governor and Congress — has reappeared on cable news to offer his views as a Republican of the Democratic proceedings.
It is a role Bauer clearly enjoys.
“I’m having a ball,” he said in a phone interview before appearing on the network’s Wednesday coverage of the Democratic National Convention – or “occupied territory,” as Bauer calls it.
“I can offer a different perspective, a different viewpoint,” he said.
At least one Democrat is in Bauer’s corner: Former state Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, who began appearing on CNN last year.
“I really owe it to Bakari,” Bauer said. “They were looking for someone who could offer a perspective, who was an officeholder or had held office, and had endorsed Trump. That was a short list back in February, so he (Sellers) recommended me.”
Sellers said he has admired Bauer since he was lieutenant governor.
“Andre’s a friend of mine. He always treated me with respect,” Sellers said. “So any time I have an opportunity to give South Carolina some exposure, I’ll always do it.”
Bauer started with a “test-run” phase, appearing on Jake Tapper’s show on Sunday mornings, then moved up to other appearances, culminating in the GOP and Democratic conventions.
Bauer doesn’t know if he is a natural TV personality, but he has followed the producers’ advice of giving his opinion as directly as he can.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I’m still engaged with politics.”
Bauer is not sure what CNN will have him do next, once the conventions are over. But he knows he’ll continue to appear on the network’s campaign coverage through the inauguration, including a likely appearance during this fall’s presidential debates.
From the segments they already have done together, Sellers is already a fan.
“We have chemistry together,” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, as a Democrat, I want to give him a 2 because of his Trump rhetoric. But, as an objective viewer watching him, he’s probably an 8.”