(CNN) - Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Attorney General now running for governor, has largely stayed above the fray as the Republican primary race has descended into a circus-like den of sex allegations, blog innuendo and racial slurs.
McMaster sought to capture the moral high ground Friday with a message to his GOP rivals: Knock it off.
"The behavior of my opponents, their campaigns and their supporters over the last few weeks has not served our state well. In fact, it's been embarrassing," McMaster said in a statement. "South Carolina is a wonderful state, blessed with talented people, abundant resources and unlimited potential. Success is ours for the taking. And it's time we start acting like it."
His rivals for the gubernatorial nomination are Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state Rep. Nikki Haley, who has denied two separate claims of an extramarital affair.
Both the campaigns of Barrett and Bauer have been accused of shopping rumors about the alleged affairs, and on Thursday night, a top ally of Bauer called Haley a "raghead," a racial slur. Haley is an Indian-American who was raised Sikh but is now a practicing Methodist.
"For the sake of our state and our people, I'm calling on them to cut this nonsense out right now," McMaster said. "They should rein in their attention-starved surrogates, re-focus on the important issues at hand, and renew their commitment to putting South Carolina's interest above their own self-interest."
UPDATE: Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson said McMaster's observation is too little, too late.
"Nikki has said from the very first day these ridiculous allegations and sideshows started that she would not be distracted from the issues and people that matter to South Carolina," Pearson said in a statement. "She has stayed very true to that, in spite of the opponent-fueled chaos now surrounding this race. We appreciate the Attorney General speaking out - nearly two weeks into this nonsense - but, frankly, he should direct his ire elsewhere."
SC is embarrassing. Period.
The purification state is a joke.
It's something in the water in S.C. I haven't been back to S.C. since bootcamp. The best thing they have going for them is Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach. I haven't heard any of these candidates mention anything about the crumbling schools in S.C.
Even though I live north, I love South Carolina and it's people. It's their politics that are completely screwed up. It's like the R's down there are trying to "Out Limbaugh" everyone else. Pretty toxic, indeed. Maybe it's time for a political power structure change, eh?
You know you love it. this only helps you. If it was democrats, it would've been democrats can't get their act together. But, it is really embarrassing you because 2 women having a cat fight and you can't say anything because they are GOP, like yourself.
Didn't we see a group of South Carolina politicians riding in a camper with Borat?
Finest people in America!
I didn't know ragheads were so promiscuous. Must be just them Methodist ragheads.
Looks like the republicans are the disfunctional party.
Sen. Jake Knotts is obviously a racist. That's what all Republicans look like.
frankly all rep GOP candidates suck. use party lines no new ideas. just whine whine whine. the dem candidate ad is refreshing. forward thinking. straight dem ticket for this deep south voter!! tired of the same lame GOP blame game.
Sheesh, the Republicans from South Carolina are giving the Democrats from Illinois a run for their money. Apparently, crazy is bipartisan!
It's not only embarassing, it is truly disgusting. Not one of these people is morally and ethically fit to be an elected representative.
Gee he AIN'T gonna make em change. After all republicans are just acting like typical republicans. Throwing racial slurs, having affairs, stealing committee money...whata you expect. They believe like the rest of us human beings.
Asking the GOP to take the moral high ground would be like asking Dick Cheney to lighten up.
We should have let the south secede.
As an American, I am embarrassed [within the country and internationally] by the behavior of the entire GOP.
Politics is a dirty business and both sides are embarrassing not just on side Henry McMaster.
Boy, Joe Wilson, Mark Sanford and Jake Knotts. What is wrong with South Carolina?
It is about time that adults start acting like there adults. It makes me sick to know my wife and I live in such a hatefull country. The remark that Sen. Knotts made about the President and Ms. Haley, is straight up crap. Who is anyone to judge, especially someone who is representing a state. I am from the south and it make me sick to see someone who is supposably an educated person make the south look like nothing more than a ignorant and racial part of the country. I'am ashamed to be from the south, and people like Knotts gives me no hope for our country to rise above all the bull. O if your not educated in politics you should probly not say anything about our President, Country, or anything else. If you dont like where we are headed you should get a passport and move.
We want George Bush's policies back. Vote Republican!
"South Carolina is a wonderful state, blessed with talented people, abundant resources and unlimited potential."
Just saw the comment from that creep, Jake Knotts. Repulsive and ignorant don't even come close to describing this Limbaugh-Palinish baffoon. I concur, Mr. McMaster, what's happened to your GOP as a whole is in fact "embarrassing" to our country and to the world as a whole; it's why I left that party long ago. Please let's all fight this ignorance once and for all. For the fans of FOX News, the station that propagates this crap, try watching some other more neutral broadcasts to open your minds to other perspectives for a change. Balance is good. This country needs to progress, not move backwards.
Can we say "opportunist"? Sounds good, but it's his opponents he's criticizing. Yes, they're acting like neanderthals.... it is the Republican Party in South Carolina after all. Where has his voice of condemnation been with regard to the rest of the South Carolinian Republicans (i.e. Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson) who have embarassed the state and nation by their inappropriate and juvenile conduct?
McMaster is just another neo-con, but I suppose it's possible he's a bit more civil than the rest of the clowns.
democrats might have a chance at the governorship if these rethuglicans keep tearing each other apart
I am a Texan.
I am grateful to the people of South Carolina. Without them, Texas would be considered as the state with the dumbest and tackiest political delegation in Washington and in the state capitol. Their governor embarrasses their state even more than Rick Perry embarrasses Texas. Compared to Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, our Senators Cornyn and Hutchison are slightly less obnoxious, though they are just as reliably on the wrong side of every issue.
With South Carolina in the union, Texas can be proud of at least one thing: there is another stated in the union whose political leadership is even stupider than ours. It's like having the second trashiest yard on the block. At least we can look down on somebody
His comments to his opponents are right on the money. Unfotunately they are falling on deaf ears. When it comes to getting elected most candidates have no principles or morals.