Meg Kinnard and Jamie Lovegrove Talk Politics

Welcome to This Week In South
Carolina. I’m Gavin Jackson. Campaign season is heating up
especially in South Carolina where Democratic candidates
continue to visit the first in the south primary state but that’s not
all. Last week, former governor, Mark Sanford announced he would
run against the president Donald Trump in the Republican
primary. But I’m here to tell you now
that I am going to get in. You’re going to run for
president against Donald Trump in the Republic race? I am. I
think that as a Republican Party we have lost our way and I’d say
so on a couple different fronts. Those were the
words of former governor and congressmen Mark Sanford this
past week as he announced his bid to run for president. His
announcement came more than a month after he said he was
thinking about challenging President Donald Trump on behalf
of fiscal conservatives who are worried about the skyrocketing
deficit under the Trump Administration. Sanford is also
seeking to spur debate on what it means to be a Republican in
the Trump era and joins two other Republicans challenging
him. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former
Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. But it’ll be hard going for
Sanford to gain any traction. He’s about a million dollars available but
fundraising will likely be difficult. In a desire to run a
multi state campaign his way instead hiring outside help
will also be a factor. In fact, Sanford won’t even be on
the ballot and South Carolina because the state Republican
Party executive committee voted against holding a primary next
year. But the democratic primary on
February twenty ninth is still on and candidates continue to
flock to the state. Recent polling shows that former vice president
Joe Biden remains a top favorite for South Carolinians.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren continue to
fight for second place while Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete
Buttigieg continue to round out the top five in polling.
Campaigns continue to court voters especially the Black
vote which makes of a majority the democratic voters in the
state but it remains an up hill climb for candidates in South
Carolina to wrangle voters away from Biden, something
candidates will be working at over the next five months. Joining us to discuss the twenty
twenty campaign is Meg Kinnard with the
Associated Press and Jamie Lovegrove with the Post and
Courier.Guys welcome back.Thanks good to be back.Good summer?Busy
Just a touch.A little tan. It’s after Labor Day and
we’re picking up as you guys know all these campaigns are
kind of kicking into gear more so but one other thing is kind
of happening here in South Carolina. We’ve seen a lot of Democrats a
few jumping out of the race but we’ve seen one Republican jump
into the race and that is Mark Sanford the former governor and
congressmen. Meg, we’ve heard a lot about that this week we’ve
heard a lot of speculation for the past month about this. What
is Mark Sanford’s goal for getting into this race? What
Mark Sanford says at least when he’s talking to reporters which
has been basically what he’s done since he officially got
into this race a few days ago is saying he really wants to have
a conversation about the national debt. He says that none
of the Republicans none of the Democrats are really doing that
as far as he sees as effective in the campaign so far and this
is always been Mark Sanford’s baby. This has been the issue on
which she has harped and he’s talked about the most during
both of his times in Congress as well has his governorship in
his two terms. So that’s what he says he’s doing, that he wants
to insert that into the conversation. But what he’s also
doing is inserting himself back into the conversation in
between the gap between the end of his governorship in the
beginning of his congressional term the second go around Mark
Sanford was kind of at a loss of what to do and we saw a lot
of him then in media interviews and kind of just offering
himself up for things. Well now is offering himself up again
only this time it’s in the form of a presidential campaign. So
we’re seeing him a lot more on television, he’s talking about
his favorite issue but he also has brought himself back into
the national consciousness which was also part of his goal.
And is this the best way to do it Jamie, as a presidential
contender? I mean he wants to have a conversation about
things that doesn’t seem like people want to have a about, and
that’s deficit. Outside of getting a cable contributor
contract I think this is probably the best way to
guarantee yourself some significant air time on CNN and
MSNBC and Fox which she’s been doing a lot of over the last
few weeks. You know he of course was
talking about potentially creating a think tank
to focus on some of these issues and I would be not
surprised one bit if that’s where this ends up you know a
couple months down the line here when it you know becomes
increasingly clear that that he doesn’t pose any sort of
electorial threat to Trump. But he’s been pretty clear that he
does not think he really knows. Flat out said he does not expect
to win. I don’t know how much clearer he could be.
But this is the way of of starting that conversation. And
I think what will be interesting to see is between the the few
challengers that have emerged to President Trump in the
Republican primary Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, Joe Walsh former Illinois
congressman Bill Weld former Massachusetts governor. You know
they have taken different tax so far in terms of their,
the way that they are going after the president or going
after the issues. Sanford as we say is very very focused on the
deficit and the debt and really not talking about much about
Trump as a person, where as Joe Walsh is pretty much
exclusively talking about Trump as a as a character as a figure
as a leader and what he views as his deficiencies there and
you know my sense talking to Republican voters over the last
few years and those who are not supportive of the president
which is not that many is least in South Carolina but they are
out there is I think there’s more space in the field of the
president’s character issues that when folks say they are
Republicans and they’ve been Republicans for a long time and
they’re not so right now oftentimes they’ll talk about
the tweets or they’ll talk about the rhetoric that he uses
against immigrants you know all kinds of issues like that.
That’s really what Joe Walsh has been talking about. You know
there are Republicans who certainly are concerned parties
lost its way when it comes to debt and the deficit and Sanford
was speaking to them but you know the odds that anyone is
going to seriously take away from Trump support among
Republicans you know it’s it’s extremely unlikely. And one of
the things Mark Sanford said this week is that he wants
to have this debate so he can make, you know, a better
Republican candidate. Make Trump better.
But if you have someone like Joe Walsh out there really
kind of going after you know these top line things when we
look up you know why people have issues with Trump which is
this personality not necessarily spending does that
mean that Joe also could be more of a media darling than
Mark Sanford when it comes to getting air time to slam Trump?
It all just kind of depends. I mean we’ll talk about this
perhaps in a little bit but Mark Sanford’s not gonna be
campaigning here. He’s going to be campaigning on national
television. That’s basically what he’s been doing so far and
I believe that that’s the way that his campaign is going to
continue but he knows that he doesn’t really have a whole lot
of space to go after President Trump for a lot of different
things. I mean that the president’s already been
tweeting several times about the Appalachian Trail and
Argentina and all the things that Mark Sanford wishes that
we wouldn’t talk about whenever he is in a campaign or or
running for something but that’s reality and he has to
accept that and so he is trying to keep that conversation in
his lane in the the place where he really you know it’s it’s
focusing his attention and that’s the economics and the
national deficit conversation. So you know some of the other
candidates, Walsh and Welds, they are going to have
opportunities that he isn’t to bring in different sorts of you
know ways to antagonize and go after President Trump but
ultimately it really is probably not really can make
that much of a difference. And you know I mean I think the
very first day of his campaign was almost symbolic in a way. I
think you know based on all the reports that I saw he clearly
spent the day on a bus from DC to New York doing cable hits in
various spots spending is time on the bus calling up reporters
all over the country to talk to them about his run and that
feels like, you know emblematic of the way this
campaign is going to be spending a lot of time trying
to get his message out in the media. You know with that being
said I think you and the A.P. reported that Iowa and New
Hampshire are gonna have primaries unlike South Carolina
I’m sure we can talk about that soon so you know they can spend
some time on the ground there too and do some of their retail
politics and Mark Sanford does enjoy he really enjoys
that sort of person to person campaigning that that you know
going in and talking to folks in diners and just
philosophizing about the issues of this country.
Of course it’s statewide campaign versus presidential
campaign. It’s a little different in South Carolina like
our Democratic hot candidates know, but Jamie we’re talking about that
you know you’re looking at the you’re covering the S.C.G.O.P.
executive committee of the state Republican Party, the executive
voted last week, next to twenty twenty primary.
They said it was a cost cutting measure and also they have an
incumbent in the White House they support. Is really
just to make sure that they don’t have any any issues going
forward with people like Mark Sanford or is it just saying
hey we’ve done this before, this is what we do now? It depends on
who you ask, right, so yes and the stated reason from from
Drew McKissick the Republican Party chairman of South Carolina
and several of the other executive committee members
that I spoke to is the cost. the South Carolina election
commission says that it would cost about one point two
million dollars to put on a Republican presidential
preference primary that’s funded by the state,so that’s
our taxpayer dollars you know I’m sure you can make an
argument education’s been a big issue right now. How many
teachers could you hire for one point two million dollars?
So there is a legitimate argument on that point, you know
what they of course also say is that they point to that history
that track record and Democrats not holding
primaries in most elections when they have an incumbent in
the White House you know of course there is a counter
example which is nineteen ninety two when Republicans did have a
primary for George H. W. Bush and Pat Buchanan
actually got like a quarter of the vote here and David Duke,
former member of the KKK also got seven percent of
the vote here. So they have done this before and you could say
that this election is frankly more analogous to nineteen
ninety two that is those others because we do have several
former elected officials running for president. They say
that they don’t consider any of these folks to be serious
legitimate contenders and we look at the polls you know so
we did, the Post and Courier did a poll with Change Research
in which we tested Mark Sanford and Trump head to head and
Trump beat Stanford ninety five percent to two among Republican
primary voters. What was interesting in that poll is we
did ask folks too, do you want a Republican primary? Even if
Trump is the only candidate and sixty percent said yes I think
there is still a sense among the Republican electorate then
there’s sort of a Democratic norm the you just hold the
primary and you give people an option you know in a way of
showing that they either support the president or don’t and of
course you know there are some folks who say politically we
better have a primary to run up the score and
show the support he has so there’s there’s a lot of
arguments on all sides there. He’d probably be doing on Twitter and again
we’re talking about nineteen ninety two verses here we are
twenty nineteen twenty twenty primary, I mean things have
changed substantially in politics and the landscape here
so I’m sure that, it would have been interesting to see how this
work going forward at least in South Carolina possibly in
other states. But what are you reporting? What was the fallout
from that decision from what you reported?
So what I heard when I spoke with Republicans across
the state as A.P. was working on a story as Jamie
just reference about New Hampshire and Iowa both
remaining committed to having their early selection process
used whether it’s a primary or a caucus in Iowa. But what I
heard from Republicans across South Carolina
many of whom weren’t willing to put their names to this but the
sentiment was exactly as Jamie just referenced why not have a
primary anyway because that goes along with some deeply
held beliefs within the Republican Party of a personal
liberty of a personal choice of a you know let’s let’s go in
and just make our voices heard and it also some of the
Republican I spoke to told me if it were to be as a
resounding a victory for the president as some polling would
indicate well wouldn’t that give him a bump, and a feeling
of momentum going into any other states where there might
be a contested primary election. So there was a bit of confusion
really but also again these were people who weren’t
necessarily willing to put their names to this because
Republicans in South Carolina even though the party does
control all of our statewide elected offices the
governorship the lieutenant governorship in most of our
congressional delegation all of the state house is up for
reelection next year along with the president everything else
but I mean you know our state lawmakers even if they are
Republicans strong conservatives they’re not going to be willing
to speak out necessarily against their own party in any
way because they’re on the ballot and so that’s you know
what I was hearing from some of the folks I talked to but again
there was a frustration that the party that this executive
committee which is composed of of you know several dozen
representatives within the party county chairman and and
other officials but not represented of the entire party
it’s not like they had some sort of a referendum where they
really just put that vote to Republicans said okay what do
you guys really want and so I think that there is you know it
as a sentiment of well I kind of wish that this it happened
for a variety of different reasons. And they’re saving one
point two million dollars mean Mark Sanford and you know if you
talk about deficits and debt I mean maybe that could be
seen as I said to somebody else or any other campaigns everyone
knows you have anyone who you know covered Mark Sanford’s
governorship like he was a he’s a very frugal guy when it comes
to the state’s tax dollars. And just to wrap it up and and kinda along that
vein Jamie he only has about one point three million dollars
in his congressional company he can use if he transfers.Where
does he go forward when you look at fundraising potential
staffing at this point and trying to at least…Well he’s
definitely got to start fundraising if he wants to last
much longer than a couple months I mean depends though on
what kind of organization he builds you know there’s been
some reporting this week you know that you know he’s basically and this is my sense
too from talking to folks in Sandford’s orbit that he’s
running pretty much the show himself right now. You know he has been
in touch with pretty much all of his former staffers.I’ve talk to
some of them and you know he’s talked but always reach out to
them maybe kind of testing the waters on whether or not they’d
be interested in coming on the help but I think also just just
checking in with them for advice.
So if he doesn’t if he doesn’t building extends organization
they just need that much money because he can run a kind of
thrifty shop and and it would
you know but he one would think he would want to start raising
some money and and there could be some avenues there I mean
there are some some pretty wealthy Republican donors.
Long time Republican donors that are not big fans of
President Trump. You know you could be even
potentially see maybe going to the coke world libertarians
sort of much more aligned ideologically Mark Sanford
than Donald Trump and seeing if they might be willing to to
help out a little bit. My inclination would be
that they probably won’t just because they’re not going to
give their money to a losing cause.
But yes if he wants to run any type of serious campaign he’s
gonna have start raising money pretty soon.So wrapping up there
with Mark Sanford, switching to the Democrats. Who will be
having a primary in South Carolina? They will indeed.Be
interesting to see who still standing because we have seen
some drop out but recent polls over the summer show former vice
president Joe Biden still really maintaining his
lead and not having any real big dips in fact a recent CBS
YouGov poll this week showed him with a forty three percent
lead Sanders with eighteen percent, Warren at fourteen
percent Harris and Buttigieg wrapping up. So this is good news for the
bank I mean they survive the summer other campaigns had some
issues seem like touching go here but Biden maintained and
despite some gaps here and there doesn’t seem like it’s
been that big of an issue. He’s plowing straight ahead and
his numbers as you mentioned do remain strong in South Carolina
again though what we hear from voters as all of us spend time
throughout the state of these events is there is still a
feeling very strong feeling of positivity toward the former
vice president because of his proximity to the Obama
Administration clearly was the number two ranking official in
that administration but when I asked voters why do you like
Joe Biden ninety five percent of them probably say well I
really respect what he did with President Obama or I like
President Obama or the Obama years were as good time for me
and here’s why. So there is still a lot of that.I mean Joe
Biden came into this primary obviously with the highest name
recognition you can possibly have in this Democratic field
of candidates so that automatically brought his
numbers up and they’ve stayed high because of a lot of things
but you know the the responses that I hear from people that
are not about policy they’re not necessarily about well I
really like his ideas for health care I mean it you know
there’s he’s talked about what he would like to change with
the affordable Care Act so he’s not pretending that you know
the what he worked on in the Obama Administration is a
hundred percent perfect but I don’t hear from a lot of voters
who were really happy with how it’s worked out for them either
so they would like to see something different happening
in terms of of that particular lane. But it’s more of a an
emotional connection I think at least from what I’ve seen here
in South Carolina of I really like Joe Biden because I liked
him in this previous time. That doesn’t mean those people will
go away and they they’re still with him and there are some
people I’ve talked to who remain committed and don’t
aren’t even willing to list any other options when I asked for
her your top three candidates it’s just Joe Biden and that it
but they’re obviously are other people other plenty of voters
who were still shopping and Joe Biden may be in their top one
two or three but they’re not necessarily committed and there
could be a variety of things that would cause them to
ultimately to somebody else. Yeah and Jamie kinda along the
line I mean that YouGov polls service, YouGov polls did show
that when the top reasons people like Biden is because of
Obama,his connection eighty five percent falls by his policy
stances. What are voters telling you when you’re at these events
too?Some of what Meg is saying? What are people’s thoughts on
Joe Biden in this race right now Yeah I mean you know when you
talk to folks who have personally know Joe Biden for a
long time in South Carolina Trip King who was Fritz
Hollings got to know Biden very personally the USC football player
met Biden while he was there became a top aide for him and I
ran for Congress here a couple years ago. You know something I
think they hit on well is that you know folks in South
Carolina it’s not his name ID it’s it’s it’s more sort of
brand ID they know who Joe Biden is and Biden himself and
said this in terms of, I’ve asked him how do you explain
how much support you have here? People know him on a deeper,
feel like they know him on a deeper level if you like them
on a personal level he’s come to the states so many times
over the years more than a dozen times just since two
thousand six to speak at various events and to help
various candidates campaign so there are a lot of former
candidates who owe gratitude of debt to the former vice
president for that reason so he does have that well of support
you know of course Bakari Sellers has sort of said this
well he’s supporting Kamala Harris in the race you know
he’s argued that Biden support is wide but not deep in South
Carolina. This idea that he has the most support but a lot of
the supporters are not necessarily stuck, you know
stick in that and that’s really going to stick with him over
the law long haul and could be persuaded to go somewhere else.
That’s what all of Joe Biden’s opponents are hoping for. But
what he’s really benefiting from right now is the size of
this field you know. While he’s always polled by far the highest
it’s not like it’s always been a poll in which he’s had a
majority of the support. The problem is that everyone else
is dividing up the rest of the the the votes and I think
especially for for some of those voters who will just go
to Biden by default it’s partly because the field is so big
they are not gonna spend all their time thinking about
politics Joe Biden’s the one that they know the one that
they feel like they can trust and they don’t have to research
twenty other people to get to that point if the field was one
two three other people as it’s starting to feel a little more-
the number actually dedicated to coming through- that could
change the calculus a little bit and then could change the
dynamic for voters so if that happens if someone starts
emerging and start creating a head to head situation with
Biden that could change you know example Elizabeth Warren Bernie
Sanders number two and number three they’re dividing that
sort of progressive vote and that’s gonna make it much
harder to take Biden now. Another thing people like about
Biden is that he is, has the ability to beat Donald Trump is
what they say but he’s the most likely candidate to beat Donald
Trump so that have to factor into a
lot of things too I mean of of going
on with what Jamie was saying.To me there’s still time, five
months that that electability is
something that people haven’t really been able to shake from.
Sure and you know when you ask Democrats really what’s it
gonna take? Who who are you going to support? I mean that’s
their solid answer regardless of the name to which took
that’s attached to it it’s who else is going to be Donald Trump
Period. Full stop. That’s what I really care about. So with Joe
Biden for all the reasons that we’ve discussed for his decades
of experience in public service and even in some of the highest
offices in the whole country sure people do kind of put him
into that slot in terms of I can see that head to head I can
see Donald Trump and Joe Biden going after each other on a
debate stage really competing and I can see Joe Biden winning
so they do kind of just you place him in that space but
let’s not forget South Carolina isn’t the first primary they
were going to have next year. It’s going to be New Hampshire
and Iowa there’s Nevada and you know it’s the first in the
south certainly but what happens in those other contest
is going to have a direct and immediate effect on what
happens here. Certainly the field will look different than
it does now it will be smaller who knows by how many but those
races in those those contest the will happen will have a
direct impact on what happens here in South Carolina. And you
may know he told you that it’s as firewall and that that he
sees South Carolina as his firewall.I talked to Bernie
Sanderes, he says yeah everyone says it’s their firewall. I
wanna switch. We have about five minutes left. Meg you were
talking a minute ago about Warren kind of pealing
support off of these lower tier candidates and least I’ve
overseen her here in South Carolina. What’s the explanation
for that? What’s going on with Warren versus Sanders as they
battled it out and again is is Jamie reference
a moment ago they do occupy the more progressive lane of the
Democratic Party that’s no secret and voters are sometimes
considering a choice between the two really.
Not necessarily all the time but the they recognize Bernie
Sanders name from his previous run clearly his name ID was not
as high as Joe Biden’s but pretty high coming into this
whole campaign. So as voters though learn more about
Elizabeth Warren what I hear from them and she’s been
spending increasingly more time here in South Carolina, not
as much as some of the other campaigns but she has been
focusing on it more. What I hear from them is the more they hear
from her the more interested in her they become and these are
people who supported Bernie Sanders last time these are
people who really kinda weren’t sure where they were gonna fall
this time on the spectrum so that some of them tell me they
wouldn’t even consider themselves being potential
Bernie Sanders supporters so it’s not like they’re just
looking for a progressive candidate but they see her they
like her and they see also some of them tell me they see her
electability as pretty decent too so in picturing somebody
else who’s not Joe Biden going up against Donald Trump next
November it seems that summer starting to coalesce about
thinking about Elizabeth Warren. and Jamie with about three
minutes, talk about these other campaigns and we have
seen Beto O’Rourke come through the state.He’s rekindling.Trying
to get more momentum again. There’s a pretty rough AP story
out the other day about just how things are going for him
and then you know Senator Kamala Harris’s campaign. Internal
documents said that they had a summer slump. Where are these two campaigns
looking like in South Carolina right now just generally and we
can talk? Yeah I mean there are a lot of folks that are working
very hard here you know I would say Kamala Harris campaign is
one of the biggest organizing presences at this point. Cory
Booker is hired very well in South Carolina Beto O’Rourke has
a pretty extensive team at this point and consistently gets
really big crowds all these can intend to get pretty big crowds
and I think the question for a lot of them is how do they
translate that apparent enthusiasm every
time they come here into actual support in the polls. You know
there has been a lot of talk over the summer about the
enthusiasm gap for Biden then this is why folks some folks
like Bakari Sellers feel like there’s an opportunity, there is
while he’s leading in the polls sometimes it doesn’t feel like
that at some of his events. He’s not getting necessarily as
being crowns as as a Warren is as Kamala Harris is
so you know they are certainly all working very aggressively
again you know the problem just comes down to how do you
distinguish you usually have a a two tag battle you have to
distinguish yourself among the sort of everyone other than
Biden and you have to distinguish yourself against
Biden and and it’s kind of difficult when nobody is able
to get through the first part of that challenge and then
become the you know the alternative to Biden for so
many voters.We have one minute left. We’re taping this Thursday
morning so we’re not going to be able to
talk debate stuff. Three hourlong
debate tonight, but we are all going to be at Galvin’s Ferry on
Monday. There will be some candidates
there include some big names. Meg what should we be looking
for at Galvin’s Ferry? Is it going to be kind of so
much what we saw with the Jim Clyburn’s fish fry?
This is going to be some old school politicing. and only in a
place like South Carolina. I mean we’re gonna have
bluegrass music, we gonna have clogging to start the night
off we’re gonna be hearing from these candidates making their
pitch literally on the stump to to voters up in the Pee Dee so
it should be quite a night. We’re not gonna have as big of a
crowd as for the Clyburn fish fry but should be some fun. Yeah
We’ll be out there will be doing a mini pod for the South
Carolina Lede too and we’ll be covering for everyone to see so
I appreciate you guys Meg and Jamie for both being on and I thank you for
tuning in and don’t forget to check out the South Carolina
Lede the political podcast that can be found on your podcast app
on any mobile device. Each week I recap the weekly political
news with reporters who cover it like these two. From the Kennedy
Greenhouse Studio on the campus of the university of South
Carolina I’m Gavin Jackson ♪

Maurice Vega

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