Politics & Government

S.C. paying a price for early primary

Punishment? What punishment?

Remember back in January when South Carolina bucked Republican Party rules and scooted its primary up to maintain its first-in-the-South status? The hammer came down. The Palmetto State's convention delegation was cut in half.

“We understand the penalties,” state GOP chair Katon Dawson said during a delegation breakfast this week.

They also understand the payoff. South Carolina handed U.S. Sen. John McCain an essential early victory for his march to the nomination, something it couldn't have done without moving the primary. In return, S.C. delegates have been housed in the same hotel as McCain and his staff, along with another state that provided a key early win, New Hampshire. Even McCain's home state delegation from Arizona isn't in the hotel.

South Carolina enjoys prime real estate on the convention floor near the stage, and their daily breakfasts have been peppered with A-list speakers: Cindy McCain, Rudy Giuliani and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, among others.

So, yes, it's safe to say that S.C. Republicans learned their lesson. Mark Johnson

In the quest to be two places at once, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has the next best thing to a clone – an equally famous political spouse.

Former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole dropped by the N.C. delegation on the convention floor Wednesday. Elizabeth Dole, who is running for re-election, is skipping the convention, a dramatic difference from 12 years ago when she drew rave reviews for her walk-and-talk speech to the convention, the now famous Dole stroll.

Bob Dole didn't seem to mind the spousal duty and was repeatedly stopped in the corridors for handshakes or news media interviews.

“When you get out of politics,” he said, “your numbers go up.” Mark Johnson