[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/19/art.mccmaster.cnn.jpg caption="Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Attorney General now running for governor, is calling developments in the race 'embarrassing.'"](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."