CHARLESTON, South Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016 — Made in Carolina. Some dance. Some prance. I’ll say, that there’s nothing finer than the Charleston.
Just two days before the South Carolina primary, virtually all of the Republican candidates were doing the Charleston. They danced from Hilton Head in the south to Greenville and Spartanburg in the north. They attended the Aiken GOP Presidential Forum in the West and rallies in Myrtle Beach in the East. The state capital of Columbia has featured candidates converging in the dead center of the state.
Yet to make their closing pitches, the campaigns are all limboing down to the Low Country.
South Carolina has a strong military presence, and the heart of that is at the Citadel. The cadets there have a group known as the Citadel Republican Society, where future presidents seek to round up new support from among the newest of soldiers.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich got the Charleston action started Thursday morning with a speech to campaign volunteers at his Mount Pleasant headquarters. He spoke for about 20 minutes and took questions from between 100 and 200 volunteers. The overwhelming majority of them were very young.
At 11 a.m., businessman Donald Trump spoke for an hour in Kiawah Island at the Turtle Point Clubhouse. About 500 people attended. This is fewer than the thousands that attend some of his events, but this area room was meant to hold only 430 people. Cars were turned away, and security gave limited latitude to those settling for standing room only.
Trump has angered many South Carolinians with his attacks on former President George W. Bush. On this day, Trump was criticized by the pope over the former’s plans to build a wall along the Mexican border. Trump fired back that the Vatican has a very impressive wall. The only thing Trump likes more than building walls is building golf courses. At Kiawah Island, he was in his element, speaking on a golf course.
Friday morning retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is holding a town hall at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Charleston Airport. This is one hour of a two-day event known as the Veterans Patriot Action Conference. The purpose of the conference is to get veterans more involved in the political process.
Most of the candidates are bringing in their biggest dogs in the final moments. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is being joined by the biggest duck. Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson will be joining Cruz at a 12:45 p.m. rally in the Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston.
At 4:30 p.m., Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is holding a rally with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. They have both endorsed Rubio, as has South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy. That rally is being held at RB Stall High School in North Charleston.
At 6 p.m., Kasich returns for an event at the U.S.S. Yorktown in Mount Pleasant. Not to be outdone, Trump returns for a 7 p.m. rally at the North Charleston Convention Center.
The one candidate not doing the Charleston is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He spoke in the greater North Charleston area on Wednesday at an event in Summerville. That was one day after Rubio visited Summerville. Bush will not be in Charleston Friday. He is doing events in Greenville and Spartanburg instead. He gets a Charleston exemption because he will be joined on the trail by one of America’s truly beloved women, former First Lady Barbara Bush.
The mother of President 43 and wife of President 41 recently turned 90 years old. She actually is too young to have danced the Charleston when it first became popular. She was born in 1925, while the dance craze was launched in 1923. Nevertheless, after having seen her family deal with the stress of two presidencies, she does not need to campaign in Charleston. She can travel wherever and whenever she pleases. She’s earned it.
For everybody else either trying to be president or help elect a president, getting to Charleston right now is a good idea. The polls close at 9 p.m. Saturday. The candidates then turn to Elvis Presley and “Viva, Las Vegas” in a three-day sprint to win the Nevada Caucus Race.