South Carolina

The Newtonians

Every politician needs a base. Mitt Romney has the business establishment. Ron Paul has libertarians. Rick Santorum has social conservatives. Michele Bachmann had Tea Partiers for a while, before Herman Cain won them over. But who’s behind Newt Gingrich? ’90s nostalgics? People with a penchant for shoddily researched history? His rise in the polls—from about 6 percent to 12 percent—has only made the question more intriguing.

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We're getting our first glimpses of life in Super-PACistan, and it's not pretty. Yesterday, Rick Perry's campaign released a new television ad in which Perry describes himself as a "doer, not a talker" and goes on to talk about Texas' impressive job creation record. This morning, another new ad went up in Iowa and South Carolina, a classic biographical spot introducing Perry as the son of a tenant farmer and husband of a nurse, before going on to talk again about Texas' job creation record.

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... was the introduction of the progressive income tax. My absolute favorite Republican idea, of course, was freeing the slaves. Both were the achieved during the greatest presidency in American history. In fairness, it should be said that Abraham Lincoln didn't take a strong interest in how the federal government would raise revenue to support the Union army. ("Money!" he said. "I don't know anything about 'money'!") He just needed some, fast.

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Boston Legal

During a Republican presidential forum in South Carolina on September 5, the conservative Princeton political philosopher Robert George asked the candidates a provocative question. George, the intellectual architect of the campaign against gay marriage and abortion rights, has long argued that Congress should declare war on the Supreme Court by passing a federal ban on abortion that clearly violates Roe v. Wade. Would the candidates be willing to sign such a ban—intentionally provoking a constitutional crisis?

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As predictable as the quadrennial leapfrogging of states in the nominating calendar is the posturing by candidates seeking to favor one state over another -- and the posturing of local political elites toward the candidates they feel are not paying their states sufficient obeisance.

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The window for Chris Christie to climb through just got even narrower (and no, that's not a catty reference -- I'm not joining this debate just yet.) The South Carolina Republican Party announced today that, in reaction to Florida moving its primary to Jan. 31, the state would hold its primary on Saturday, Jan. 21. This means that the nominating calendar is going to be pushed back even earlier than many were predicting after Florida's move.

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Christmas in Sioux City

They better start laying in the Champagne in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, because it looks like it's going to be another holiday season in Iowa for the political circus. Florida Republicans today announced that they would, as they'd been threatening to, move their primary to January 31st. This will push the traditional first four states earlier into January, with one plausible scenario putting the Iowa caucuses on January 9, the New Hampshire primary on January 17, the Nevada caucuses on January 21 and the South Carolina primary January 28.

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Until just last week, things were looking up for Republicans, with Obama’s approval ratings sinking and the GOP nomination process settling down to a choice between two potentially formidable candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. But after the demolition derby of “P5”—the series of candidate events in Orlando including a candidates’ debate, a state straw poll, and several speaking opportunities—fear and panic have gripped elite GOP circles. Indeed, what’s been revealed is that the two front-runners are locked in an increasingly savage competition that exposes both of their vulnerabilities.

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A few days ago, before this blog was launched, we got word in the paper of record that new Census data showed the county around Greenwood, S.C. as the one hardest hit by the Great Recession: the 70,000-person county's poverty rate more than doubled between 2007 and 2010, to 28 percent, the largest increase for any county in the country, and median income plunged by 28 percent, a drop of $12,000.

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When Rick Perry lays down his head on Saturday night, he’s going to be one tired Texan. By then, the consensus GOP front-runner will have endured a 48-hour gauntlet of events in Orlando, Florida, including a televised presidential candidates’ debate, an ideological beauty contest sponsored by the American Conservative Union, and a state party straw poll. Moreover, all this is occurring in a state that will hold a crucially timed 2012 primary, is considered a must-win for Republicans in the general election, and has demographic characteristics that could pose a real challenge to Perry.

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