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S.C. Primary Ground Game Perry's to Lose

Candidate is best positioned for a win, but he's got to work.

South Carolina experts say Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be in the best position to win the ground game in Palmetto State but the late entrant into the race still has a lot of work to do.

As the typical third big contest of the primary season, and possibly the first in the South, South Carolina could swing a lot of national momentum. Several candidates are reportedly hoping to win Iowa or New Hampshire, and then pull ahead of the pack with a strong showing in South Carolina.

"The [South Carolina] primary gives the impression that someone can win an election nationally," said Robert Oldendick, the director of the University of South Carolina's Institute for Public Service and Policy Research in Columbia.

Oldendick noted that South Carolina is known for picking the GOP candidate, correctly choosing the Republican nominee in each election since 1980.

"It also eliminates some people who don't do well."

And that's going to be important for Perry. He'll have to post respectable numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire, but a win in South Carolina is likely a must for the Texas governor, who announced his candidacy at the August RedState event in Charleston.

But Perry's biggest trump card right now is likely his collection of who recently endorsed his campaign. His garrison of nearly two-dozen legislators who routinely get the ear of their colleagues and a few minutes to speak at every county party breakfast or monthly meeting.

State Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Bonneau, S.C.) ran briefly for governor in 2010. He said he is looking forward to traveling with Perry in the sate.

"My role is going to be helping him become more familiar with our needs as the campaign moves forward," Grooms said.

Party insiders and political observers say there isn't much to distinguish between the other campaigns on the ground at this point. Other candidates have important endorsements, but have seen little traction.

— Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has former Attorney General Henry McMaster and current Attorney General Alan Wilson, as well as the family of former Gov. Carroll Campbell, but he hasn't seen any movement in the polls.

— Gov. Mitt Romney has put state Treasurer Curtis Loftis on the campaign trail, but two major endorsements from his 2008 campaign are still sitting on the sideline: Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Jim DeMint.

No Sure Thing

"I'll be talking about Rick Perry's job in Texas and defending him when I have to," said State Sen. Paul Campbell (R-Goose Creek, S.C.).

Perry has needed defending lately as the candidate has stumbled in his few chances to introduce himself to a national audience.

Perry’s defenders may be ready for war, but they won’t save a floundering candidate, says Jeri Cabot, adjunct political science professor at the College of Charleston.

"That gets you media attention, but endorsements are pretty overrated," said Cabot. "It doesn't necessarily translate to work on the ground."

Not every expert pointed to Perry as the leader on the ground.

"The most organized ground game, with staff and strategy, is Jon Huntsman," said Columbia-based GOP consultant Wesley Donehue, who worked for Romney in 2008.

Huntsman gobbled up key South Carolina campaign consultants early, including Adam Piper, Joel Sawyer and Richard Quinn. It hasn't translated to success in the polls yet, but Donahue says it gives Huntsman boots on the ground for a strong campaign after New Hampshire.

Perry is also going to have to spend more time in the state, as he's leading a field that so far has been surprisingly disengaged locally. Berkeley County Republican Party Chair Tim Callanan says he has seen more from long-shot candidates like former Sen. Rick Santorum than anyone from the top tier.

"I'm surprised that Perry and Romney haven't been here more often," Callanan said. "I don't think there are many candidates working very hard in South Carolina. It frustrates me to see them concentrate so much time in Iowa and New Hampshire."

Both leading campaigns appear poised to fix that problem. Ann Romney made two stops in the state last week, with a promise that her husband would be making an appearance in early October. Perry isn't expected to be too far behind. Grooms said he'll be back in the state by the middle of the month.

Gretchen October 01, 2011 at 05:00 PM
I Prefer a BUSINESS MAN .. either CAIN or ROMNEY ....:)
keepyourpower October 01, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I don't know what is wrong with the voters up in Lexington...but Perry is NOT a good candidate. Not only does he believe in giving in state tuition to ILLEGALS...which DRAWS illegals across the border...he mandated that the students of TX learn about Islam. There were long courses on it. I have the curriculum on my computer. You see..when he decided to run..he had, or someone had the info scrubbed from the internet. Every time it comes back up...it is scrubbed again! That is SINISTER! IF you believe in something or have done something...you have to show it to the world...not try to hide it...to get elected. No one talks about it. He is never questioned about it either, even by other candidates. The only one who spoke up about Muslims was M. Bachmann. I have also heard from Texans that he is a great campaigner..but once he is in office..he does the opposite. One of his friends, Aga Khan, believes in Sharia Law and believes Israel should be blown off the map! The friend also wears the Palestinian scarf that states a phrase about killing the Jews. Is this the type of man you want as your President. One who will be friends with Muslim Extremists and ruin the economy with as many illegal aliens as he can get? Don't forget..quite a few Muslim extremist come across the border. And Hezbollah has set up camps at the TX border in Mexico. And Hezbollah has a camp in Cuba. They are close. And they have plans to take over the USA.
Alison Dorée Guerriere October 01, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Huntsman has been a successful business man both domestically and internationally AND been a successful public servant. Get to know Jon. You'll like what you see: http://www.jon2012.com/about-jon
Cold War Vet October 02, 2011 at 02:36 PM
When Obama met the Queen of England, he asked, "Your Majesty, how do you run an efficient government? The Queen said, "Surround yourself with intelligent people." Obama frowned, and asked, "How do I know the people around are really intelligent?" The Queen said, "that's easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle." The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. "Please send David Cameron in here." David Cameron walked into the room, "Yes, Your Majesty?" The Queen talks to David and says, "Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?" Without pausing, David responds, "That would be me." "Yes! Very good," said the Queen. Obama calls Joe Biden and asks him the same question. "I'm not sure," said Biden. "Let me get back to you on that one" Biden goes to all his advisors, but none could give him an answer. Finally, Biden runs into Sarah Palin and asks her the same question. Sarah Palin answers, "That's easy, it's me!" Biden thanks her. Biden calls Obama back and says, "I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Sarah Palin!" Obama angrily yells at Biden and says, "No! You idiot! It's David Cameron!" AND THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT'S GOING ON WITH OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN WASHINGTON , D.C.
Cold War Vet October 02, 2011 at 05:18 PM
You don't want Romeny, a.k.a Obama Jr., an anti-gun proponent, from an Obama type healthcare state that got its nickname Taxachusetts for a reason.

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