February 13, 2016

Five things to watch for in the Greenville GOP debate Saturday night

Unless you have been glued to cable news or work in politics, you may not know what’s at stake in Saturday night’s Republican presidential primary debate in Greenville. Here are five things to watch for as the remaining candidates try to sell themselves to voters on the Peace Center stage.

Will Rubio rebound?
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was enjoying momentum out of Iowa, became a debate target for contenders – and did not meet the challenge. In fact, he appeared as robotic as challenger Chris Christie said he was. Rubio’s numbers tumbled in the New Hampshire primary. Christie is gone, but will someone else take up where he left off? Will the well-prepared Rubio show us his extemporaneous skills? If he does, GOP strategist Chip Felkel says he could still be a major contender.

Cruz, the Christian Soldier

Ted Cruz has taken on the evangelical mantle, focusing on faith-based voters. His victory speech in Iowa ended with a throaty appeal to God and the promise of “a new morning.” Look for him to evoke religion a moment or two in the debate. Will he call into question the values and dirty laundry of Donald Trump? Will he play to black evangelical voters at all, (a subgroup that does not always agree with the socially progressive agenda of the Democrats) and continue to try to pull from the Carson base?

Trump, the Southern gentleman?

Donald Trump’s New York state of mind is not a bad thing to the retirees who have transplanted to the Palmetto State. Some of the most vocal leaders in the Tea Party movement in South Carolina are lovingly called “cranky Yankees.”

But can he be as profane or crass in the Bible Belt? Will he temper his approach in the debate or just tease a profane answer? Many Republican voters we talked to approve of his tough talk, and think he can figure out the rest.

Jeb! Jeb. or Jeb?

Bush showed well in a debate in New Hampshire and is comfortable in South Carolina. He has to show well in this debate, just as his former protegé Marco Rubio does. Will he continue to go after Trump? Or will he target Rubio? Will he be battered for bringing his brother in to campaign for him?

The case for Kasich

Like Bush and Rubio, Kasich needs to make the case to stay in the race, but South Carolinians do not know him well enough. That’s unless he can make a huge splash at this debate. He will talk about his accomplishments (all true) but he is a just a nice guy. Will nice guys get any attention in this debate, or in this election?




Gilmore (and his 0% of the vote) drops out

Gilmore speaks in Columbia last year (File)

Gilmore speaks in Columbia last year (File)

And then there were six.

Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore ended his longshot Republican presidential bid in a quiet announcement Friday, three days after he recorded less than 0.1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s GOP primary.

“My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party.” Gilmore said in a statement. “My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America’s economy and weaken our national security.”

Gilmore held only one campaign stop in South Carolina since registering for the primary last year — a Conservative Leadership Project town hall in Columbia that was mostly attended by University of South Carolina students promised free pizza. His campaign was viewed more as a novelty than serious by national media, especially since his own filed financial records reported just $33,000 cash on hand at the end of 2015.

He never recorded more than 1 percent in any poll and even agreed that was unlikely to change, saying in his announcement that the “difficulty of the debate structure” and lack of national media coverage “made it impossible… to continue his campaign for the presidency.”

South Carolina Radio Network’s Charleston affiliate WQSC had been scheduled to interview Gilmore on Thursday, but his campaign canceled the appearance.


New poll shows Trump still far ahead among likely SC GOP voters

Donald Trump (File)

Donald Trump (File)

A new poll released a week before South Carolina’s Republican primary shows that perceived frontrunner Donald Trump still enjoys a large lead among likely GOP voters.

The Augusta Chronicle/Morris News Service poll shows 36 percent of likely Republican voters surveyed this week indicated they will back Trump in the Feb. 20 primary. Just shy of 20 percent indicated support for Ted Cruz, while Marco Rubio’s 15 percent and Jeb Bush’s 11 percent paced them further back.

It was the first poll of South Carolina voters released since before the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 1. However, it did not appear the events of the last two weeks have swayed voters — the 16-percentage point lead for Trump over Cruz is similar to a late January NBC News poll.

Only 5 percent of the nearly 800 respondents said they were undecided, although the poll did not ask how certain they were on their choice. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said they had not voted in previous years. 65 percent considered themselves “evangelical,” according to the results.

John Kasich recorded 9 percent support in the poll, which was conducted the day after his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. Ben Carson recorded just 5 percent.

The poll only examined Republican voters.

SCRN 12pm Newscast (Audio)


#PalmettoPrimary: Candidates to spend weekend in Greenville

Faith&FamA daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.

Four of the GOP candidates will be at Bob Jones University in Greenville on Friday as they participate in the 2016 Faith and Family Presidential Forum. The event is organized by the Palmetto Family Alliance and the Conservative Leadership Project.

Candidates will appear on-stage at the free event one at a time and answer a series of questions from moderators Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council and state Attorney General Alan Wilson. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio will all attend Friday’s event, which begins at noon.

— All six of the remaining Republicans in the race will appear in a CBS News debate at Greenville’s Peace Center the next day at 9 p.m. Politico has a preview of the last debate before South Carolina’s Feb. 20 GOP primary.

— Carson and Cruz had a bit of a preview for Friday’s forum, as they appeared at a smaller, but similar venue in Rock Hill on Thursday. The Carolina Values Summit brought together both campaigns to reach an evangelical audience at Winthrop University.

[Read more…]