Washington (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich picked up the endorsement of former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on Monday, giving him his most prominent surrogate to date in a state that Gingrich's campaign has billed as its "southern firewall."
"Speaker Newt Gingrich offers the best and most comprehensive plan to get America moving forward and that is why today I am announcing my full support for Speaker Gingrich ... a true conservative, a true patriot, and true leader," Bauer said in a statement.
(CNN) – South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who finished fourth among four candidates in Tuesday's gubernatorial Republican primary, announced his endorsement Friday of Rep. Gresham Barrett, the second place finisher.
"I hope the media and the voters take these next two weeks to really look at the candidates: their real records – not just their rhetoric," Bauer said in a statement. "When they do, they will find Gresham Barrett has been a committed conservative soldier in the movement against big government long before it was politically advantageous and that Representative Haley has been misrepresenting her conservative credentials."
Barrett finished more than 25 points behind state Rep. Nikki Haley, who nearly avoided a runoff by receiving about 49 percent of the votes. South Carolina Republicans will return to the polls on June 22 to select their nominee.
Barrett's campaign also on Friday launched its second ad since the runoff campaign began.
(CNN) - After a poll Thursday showed Tea Party favorite Nikki Haley surging to the front of the pack in the race for the South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial nomination, her opponents acknowledged - but sought to downplay - her fresh momentum.
Haley, a state representative with little money and a meager statewide profile, entered the race last year as a dark horse candidate after supporters of Gov. Mark Sanford urged her to run under the reform mantle. Her small government views won over national conservative activists, but she struggled to make headway in her own four-way GOP primary.
That changed in recent weeks after Haley netted a surprise endorsement from Sarah Palin, who traveled to Columbia to appear with Haley at a rally. ReformSC, an advocacy group funded by allies of Sanford, ran TV ads backing her candidacy. Haley's campaign also went on the air with a tough ad attacking her rivals - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, Attorney General Henry McMaster and Rep. Gresham Barrett.
A candidate must capture 50 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, an unlikely prospect that means the race will probably result in a runoff between the top two vote-getters.
Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson said in an e-mail to supporters Thursday that "our campaign is in the strongest position we've ever been" - a claim Haley's rivals aren't disputing.
McMaster's campaign admitted Thursday that their once little-known opponent is riding high.
(CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, under fire for drawing a comparison between needy people and "stray animals," said Monday that he regrets his choice of words.
In a phone interview with CNN, Bauer, a Republican candidate for governor, said, "I wish I had used a different metaphor." Bauer told an audience Friday that people receiving government assistance are like "stray animals" because "they breed" and "don't know any better."
"I never intended to tie people to animals," he said, before opting for a kinder animal metaphor: "If you have a cat, if you take it in your house and feed it and love it, what happens when you go out of town?"
Noting that he has raised money for a group that protects animals, Bauer also said he is "not against animals."
(CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer isn't backing away from controversial remarks he made over the weekend comparing needy people to "stray animals."
Bauer, who is one of several candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Friday that providing government food assistance to lower-income residents - things like food stamps or free school lunches - encourages a culture of dependence.
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," Bauer told an audience in the town of Fountain Inn, according to the Greenville News. "You know why? Because they breed."
"You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply," Bauer continued. "They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
Bauer said recipients of government assistance should undergo drug testing or be forced to attend parent-teacher conferences, or else lose their benefits.
(CNN) – An outspoken critic of Mark Sanford is accusing the embattled South Carolina governor of orchestrating a smear campaign against Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Republican State Sen. Jake Knotts wrote to fellow members of the state legislature on Wednesday accusing Sanford and his allies of spreading rumors that Bauer is gay - a claim that was reported earlier this week by a blogger who seeks to out closeted conservative politicians.
"As a former target of a false rumor started by the Sanford Camp I can tell you with absolute certainty this attack was orchestrated on behalf of Mark Sanford, either directly or indirectly, and financially subsidized by him or one of his many 'front-groups,'" Knotts wrote. The letter was first reported by "The Palmetto Scoop," a South Carolina political Web site.
Knotts, an ally of Bauer and a fierce opponent of Sanford, said there is no truth to the gay rumors that have dogged Bauer for years.
"I have known Andre since he was eight years old," Knotts told CNN. "Ain't a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It's a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor."
Bauer publicly called on Sanford to resign last week, a request that was promptly rejected by the governor. Bauer is also planning to enter the crowded race to succeed Sanford next year. If Sanford resigns or is forced from office before his term expires, Bauer would assume the governorship, a move that would allow him to run as an incumbent in 2010. Bauer said if Sanford resigns within the next month, he would bow out of the governor's race.
Bauer himself addressed the gay rumors earlier this summer, telling The State newspaper: "One word, two letters. 'No.' Let's go ahead and dispel that now."
"It's an absolute effort by Sanford's people to discredit Andre," Knotts said of the rumors. "Sanford hates Andre so bad it's pitiful."
(CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford forcefully rejected his lieutenant governor's request that he resign for the good of the state, telling reporters Wednesday: "I am not going to be railroaded out of this office by political opponents or folks that were never fans of mine in the first place."
Sanford called a press conference to respond to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who said earlier in the day "that the best interests of the people of South Carolina can no longer be served by the current administration." Bauer also promised voters that if Sanford resigns and he assumes the governorship, he will not go through with his long-held plans to enter the 2010 governor's race.
But Sanford dismissed Bauer's offer - which was made formally in a letter sent to Sanford's office - and accused Bauer and other critics of cynically trying to exploit his weakened political position in the wake of recent investigations into his travel expenses.
"A lot of what's going on is pure politics, plain and simple," he said.
(CNN) – South Carolina's lieutenant governor on Wednesday accused Gov. Mark Sanford of "serious misconduct" in office and said the time has come for the embattled governor to resign.
Andre Bauer is the highest-ranking official so far to call on Sanford to step down. He said he tried to remain supportive of the governor after he admitted to an extramarital affair in June, but subsequent investigations into Sanford's foreign and domestic travel expenses have become too much of a distraction for the state.
Several GOP lawmakers have said that Sanford, also a Republican, violated South Carolina law by paying for pricey seats on international flights and using state aircraft for personal and political purposes.
"Regrettably, we have reached a point where we must all put the interests of the people of South Carolina first," Bauer said at a news conference inside the state house in Columbia. "It is my opinion that the best interests of the people of South Carolina can no longer be served by the current administration."
Sanford has scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. ET to respond to Bauer's comments.
If Sanford does resign, Bauer would become governor for the remainder of Sanford's term, which expires in January 2011.
But the lieutenant governor, who was elected separately from Sanford and is not a political ally of the governor, offered Sanford a deal: If the governor resigns and Bauer takes office, he said he will put aside his own political ambitions and not move forward with the 2010 gubernatorial bid he has long been planning.
(CNN) – South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer will call on Gov. Mark Sanford to resign in a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at noon, making him the highest ranking official in the state to do so, according to a source close to Bauer.
But Bauer - who has been plotting his entrance into the 2010 governor's race - will also pledge in the news conference not to seek the top office himself if Sanford does decide to step down in the coming weeks.
The lieutenant governor will send a letter to Sanford later today asking him to step down, a move that would elevate Bauer into the governor's mansion for the remainder of Sanford's term.
That prospect is an uncomfortable one for rival Republicans in the governor's race, who believe Bauer would gain an upper hand in the 2010 race as an incumbent. And because he stands to benefit directly, Bauer also risks appearing nakedly ambitious by asking Sanford to go.
But Bauer is promising not to enter the race if he assumes the governorship - a scenario he first floated to CNN in June after Sanford revealed an extramarital affair and came under fire from members of his own party.
"What it would do is it would get the politics out of it," Bauer told CNN about his proposal at the time. "The people that are so concerned for their own political future about running for governor, would no longer be worried if I came in and became governor, because I would just say.'You know what? This is bigger than politics. I will go and lead in for the next 18 months and not run for re-election.'"