Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - Despite predictions that the Republican gubernatorial runoff might be nastier than the bitter four-way primary fight that preceded it, candidates Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett traded only mild jibes Wednesday as their campaigns re-grouped and wrestled with strategy following Haley’s dominant showing in the polls the night before.
Barrett lost out on a potentially significant endorsement Wednesday when Sen. Jim DeMint, who has ties to Barrett and his advisers, declined to get involved in the race.
But Barrett’s campaign beat Haley to the TV airwaves, launching a quirky statewide television ad in which Barrett promises to “shake up Columbia.”
Haley’s campaign announced that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will visit South Carolina to campaign for Haley along the coast June 18, though how much influence Romney has over GOP voters there is an open question after his dismal finish in the state’s 2008 presidential primary. Haley will also roll out endorsements from state Republicans on Thursday.
Barrett’s advisers acknowledge a difficult path to victory against Haley, who now has the backing of the Republican Governors Association and their flush war chest, but see no upside in dropping out of the race with just 14 days until the June 22 runoff.
They and other South Carolina Republicans also recognize that negative attacks against Haley are likely to backfire, as Haley’s surge in the closing days of the primary demonstrated.
Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Despite pressure from national Republicans, Gresham Barrett vowed Wednesday to remain in the runoff race against Nikki Haley for South Carolina's GOP gubernatorial nomination.
"We are in it for the long haul," Barrett told reporters at his campaign headquarters when asked if would drop out of the race.
Barrett made good on that promise Wednesday by releasing the first television ad of the runoff race – a follow-up to the well-received "Drill Sergeant" commercial that helped drive up Barrett's poll numbers in the final weeks of the race.
In the 30-second spot, titled "Shake Up Columbia," a drill sergeant walks alongside Barrett asking him a series of questions about how he plans to do business in the state capital if elected.
Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - There has been speculation among South Carolina politicos in recent days that Republican Sen. Jim DeMint would endorse Gresham Barrett in a gubernatorial runoff against Nikki Haley.
That might seem counterintuitive, considering that DeMint generally supports reform-minded, Tea Party-backed candidates like Haley. That, and Barrett voted for the Wall Street bailout in 2008, legislation DeMint fervently opposed.
But DeMint and Barrett have a long history in the clubby and interconnected world of South Carolina politics. Besides sharing the same political consultants, who made sure to plaster DeMint's image all over Barrett's campaign literature, Barrett gave DeMint a key endorsement in his 2004 Senate race.
So will DeMint return the favor for Barrett in his race against Haley?
Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – The tumultuous and nasty race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina will continue for another two weeks after Nikki Haley narrowly avoided winning Tuesday’s four-way GOP primary outright.
Haley cruised to a commanding win but fell just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election, scheduled for June 22.
Her opponent in the two-week sprint for the nomination will be Rep. Gresham Barrett, who finished in a distant second place and was dogged throughout the race by his vote for the Wall Street bailout in 2008.
Barrett’s advisers denied rumors that he would drop out of the race and let Haley avoid a runoff. Barrett campaign manager Luke Byars said his candidate is “in it to win it.”
(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney is picking a side in yet another contested Republican primary, this time endorsing Rep. Gresham Barrett in his bid for South Carolina governor.
Cheney weighed in to defend Barrett's biggest liability in the four-way GOP primary - his vote in favor of the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
"I'm certain Gresham knew his vote in support of President Bush and our plan wouldn't be popular, but he did something far too novel in American politics today: He put the interests of his country ahead of his own," Cheney said. "That's why voters should not believe the false attacks from his opponents.
The TARP vote has dogged Barrett from the early days of the race: He was booed mercilessly for his vote at a Greenville Tea Party rally last summer and video of the event quickly went viral.
Cheney added: "When it was time to make decisions and show leadership, Gresham stepped up while they all stayed silent and ducked for cover. That may make for good politics today, but it certainly isn't leadership."
For the third time this election season, the former Vice President has found himself opposite Sarah Palin, who is supporting state Rep. Nikki Haley in the primary.
(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) – Coming soon: More Rick Santorum appearances in South Carolina.
The former Pennsylvania Senator and potential presidential candidate will return to the key primary state on May 21 to help his friend, Rep. Gresham Barrett, make his final push for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The two will appear together at a campaign event on Seabrook Island.
The following day, May 22, Santorum will campaign for House candidate Mick Mulvaney, who is challenging longtime Rep. John Spratt.
Santorum's itinerary that day also includes two speaking appearances at local Republican party events, offering him a forum with party activists who will be key players in the state's 2012 GOP presidential primary.
In the morning, he's slated to headline the Dorchester County Republican Breakfast in Summerville. Later that day, he'll keynote the Greenville County Republican Party's Bronze Elephant Dinner.
Santorum last visited the Palmetto State in late April.
(CNN) – Mitt Romney is in South Carolina Thursday signing copies of his new book and campaigning for state Rep. Nikki Haley, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Haley backed the former Massachusetts governor during his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
But Romney's endorsement of Haley in the South Carolina governor's race, which he announced last month, puts him at odds with a number of party leaders in the crucial primary state who supported him during the 2008 presidential race. Many of them, including the operatives who ran his presidential campaign in the state, are backing one of Haley's rivals in the crowded GOP primary, Rep. Gresham Barrett.
Two of Romney's three campaign chairmen - former Gov. Jim Edwards and former Rep. Tommy Hartnett - are supporting Barrett. So are two co-chairs of his 2008 "Women for Mitt" team, Republican National Committeewoman Cindy Costa and former First Lady Ann Edwards, as are the chairs of Romney's grassroots campaign. Warren Tompkins, a senior adviser to Romney in 2008, is on Barrett's side as well, as is Romney's old finance director.
A number of top Romney donors from 2008 are also raising money for Barrett's campaign. Multiple GOP sources told CNN that Romney, who is mulling another presidential bid in 2012, did not reach out to his 2008 financial backers before heading to the Palmetto State on Thursday.